Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: Review
The king of the silent films, William King Baggot, stars in this early dramatization of Robert Louis Stephenson’s classic horror story The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
The script was written by Herbert Brenon—who also directed the film—and, although the script maintains the essence of the original story, there are a quite a few differences; the most notable of which is probably the addition of a love interest for the doctor. Her name is Alice, but her presence adds little to the story.
When I watched this I was rather amazed at how good the transformation scenes are for a film that was made at a time when the filmmaker’s art was in its infancy. Much of the credit for this must go to Baggot though, because although the double exposure camera work was effective, it is Baggot’s portrayal of the metamorphosis sequences, and the two very different characters of Jekyll and Hyde, that brings the story to life. As Jekyll he is a tall, straight-backed and respectable-looking man, but as Hyde he walks in a crouch and has a permanent stoop that helps to achieve Hyde’s twisted look. The mannerisms and tmovements he adopts are also very effective and help illustrate the fact that Hyde is a monster, a freak, and something that is not quite human. Enough from me though. If you’ve read this far you may as well scroll down the page and watch the film; it’s only twenty-six minutes long.
Director: Herbert Brenon
King Baggot … Dr. Henry Jekyll / Mr. Hyde
Jane Gale … Alice
Matt Snyder … Alice’s Father
Howard Crampton … Dr. Lanyon
William Sorelle … Utterson