Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920)

79 mins | Drama, Horror | April 1920

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HISTORY

The film begins with an introductory title card: “In each of us, two natures are at war—the good and the evil. All our lives the fight goes on between them, and one of them must conquer. But in our own hands lies the power to choose—what we want most to be, we are.”
       Lead characters and their portrayer are introduced on title cards in the following manner: “John Barrymore as Henry Jekyll, idealist and philanthropist—by profession, a doctor of medicine”; “Dr. Richard Lanyon, as conservative professionally as Dr. Jekyll was progressive. – Charles Lane”; “Always as far from misery and suffering as he could get, was Sir George Carew. – Brandon Hurst”; “Sir George Carew’s daughter Millicent, beloved of Dr. Jekyll…. Martha Mansfield”; “Mr. Edward Enfield. – Cecil Clovelly”; “Gina—who faced her world alone. – Nita Naldi.” Dr. Jekyll’s butler is also introduced as “Poole, a family servant, who had inherited his young master,” but the name of actor George S. Stevens is not on the card. The title card introducing “Millicent” was added later, in a different typeface.
       Several characters’ first names were changed. In the Robert Louis Stevenson 1886 novella, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Lanyon was “Dr. Hastie Lanyon”; Enfield was “Richard Enfield;” and Carew was Dr. Danvers Carew, M.P. (Member of Parliament). The character of Millicent Carew did not exist in the novel, but was probably inspired by a character added as the “love interest” in Thomas Russell Sullivan’s 1887 play, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, starring Richard Mansfield. Although the play is not credited, it was the first adaptation to put the ... More Less

The film begins with an introductory title card: “In each of us, two natures are at war—the good and the evil. All our lives the fight goes on between them, and one of them must conquer. But in our own hands lies the power to choose—what we want most to be, we are.”
       Lead characters and their portrayer are introduced on title cards in the following manner: “John Barrymore as Henry Jekyll, idealist and philanthropist—by profession, a doctor of medicine”; “Dr. Richard Lanyon, as conservative professionally as Dr. Jekyll was progressive. – Charles Lane”; “Always as far from misery and suffering as he could get, was Sir George Carew. – Brandon Hurst”; “Sir George Carew’s daughter Millicent, beloved of Dr. Jekyll…. Martha Mansfield”; “Mr. Edward Enfield. – Cecil Clovelly”; “Gina—who faced her world alone. – Nita Naldi.” Dr. Jekyll’s butler is also introduced as “Poole, a family servant, who had inherited his young master,” but the name of actor George S. Stevens is not on the card. The title card introducing “Millicent” was added later, in a different typeface.
       Several characters’ first names were changed. In the Robert Louis Stevenson 1886 novella, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Lanyon was “Dr. Hastie Lanyon”; Enfield was “Richard Enfield;” and Carew was Dr. Danvers Carew, M.P. (Member of Parliament). The character of Millicent Carew did not exist in the novel, but was probably inspired by a character added as the “love interest” in Thomas Russell Sullivan’s 1887 play, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, starring Richard Mansfield. Although the play is not credited, it was the first adaptation to put the novella’s literary narrative into dramatic form.
       The 6 Dec 1919 Exhibitors Herald reported that John Barrymore was suffering from “a severe case of grippe,” or influenza, and had been advised by his physician to stay home, but he insisted on doing his scenes. Later in the month, cameraman Roy Overbaugh was stricken with pneumonia and had to be replaced by Hal Young, according to the 27 Dec 1919 Wid’s. Daily The Apr-May 1920 issue of Motion Picture Classic noted that filming had “just completed.”
       As Paramount-Artcraft released its long-awaited Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the independent Pioneer Film Corporation rushed another Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920, see entry) onto the market, starring Sheldon Lewis, who had played the title characters on the stage. The 29 May 1920 Moving Picture World summed up the inconvenience to Paramount-Artcraft in an item from Cleveland, OH: “There is a merry war on in Cleveland over the two different productions of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Since the Euclid Theatre started to run the Barrymore version the one with Sheldon Lewis has been booked all over town. This will be a barrier to the distributors of the Barrymore picture, in that they will suffer a loss, as the Euclid will play it for two or three weeks and when it is then shown in other parts of Cleveland it will be following the Lewis picture.”
       The first American adaptation of Stevenson’s novella was a 1908 Selig Pictures one- or two-reel drama (see entry), about which little is known. Four years later, James Cruze starred in a two-reel version (1912, see entry), credited as an adaptation of Thomas Russell Sullivan’s play. In 1920, a German film version, Der Januskopf, , starring Conrad Veidt and directed by F. W. Murnau, competed with that year’s two American films. Paramount remade Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in 1932 (see entry), starring Fredric March. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer produced another version in 1941, starring Spencer Tracy (see entry).
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SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Christian Science Monitor
30 Mar 1920.
---
Exhibitors Trade Review
10 Apr 1920
p. 2136.
Motion Picture News
10 Apr 1920
p. 3363.
Moving Picture World
16 Jul 1919
p. 1024.
Moving Picture World
10 Apr 1920
p. 300.
New York Morning Telegraph
4 Apr 1920.
---
New York Times
29 Mar 1920
p. 18.
NYES
29 Mar 1920.
---
NYTr
30 Mar 1920.
---
Variety
2 Apr 1920
p. 93, 97
Wid's
4 Apr 1920
p. 2.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Adolph Zukor presents
A Paramount-Artcraft Picture
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir, architecture
Art dir, architecture
Art dir, decorations
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novella The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (London, 1886).
DETAILS
Release Date:
April 1920
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 28 March 1920
Copyright Claimant:
Famous Players-Lasky Corp.
Copyright Date:
18 March 1920
Copyright Number:
LP14921
Physical Properties:
Silent
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
79
Length(in feet):
6,355
Length(in reels):
6-7
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Dr. Jekyll, a London physician and philanthropist, becomes fascinated with the dual nature of man after the profligate Sir George Carew exposes him to temptation. When he discovers a drug that separates the good from the evil, he decides to live both roles and names the evil persona Mr. Hyde. Jekyll is in love with Millicent, the daughter of Sir George; Hyde debases and discards Theresa, a dance hall performer. Jekyll's control over Hyde weakens gradually to the point where his alter ego murders Sir George. After this deed, Jekyll can no longer countenance Hyde's destructive behavior, and so locks himself in the laboratory where he becomes Hyde again. When Millicent comes to visit, Jekyll swallows a lethal dose of poison and when, as Hyde, he attempts to attack her, dies in the ... +


Dr. Jekyll, a London physician and philanthropist, becomes fascinated with the dual nature of man after the profligate Sir George Carew exposes him to temptation. When he discovers a drug that separates the good from the evil, he decides to live both roles and names the evil persona Mr. Hyde. Jekyll is in love with Millicent, the daughter of Sir George; Hyde debases and discards Theresa, a dance hall performer. Jekyll's control over Hyde weakens gradually to the point where his alter ego murders Sir George. After this deed, Jekyll can no longer countenance Hyde's destructive behavior, and so locks himself in the laboratory where he becomes Hyde again. When Millicent comes to visit, Jekyll swallows a lethal dose of poison and when, as Hyde, he attempts to attack her, dies in the act. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.