Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920)


The movie Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920) is an American silent horror film produced by Famous Players–Lasky and released through Paramount/Artcraft. The film, which stars John Barrymore, is an adaptation of the 1886 novella Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. [1]

In Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920), Dr. Henry Jekyll lives and works in London. When not treating the poor at his free clinic, he works long hours in his laboratory, leaving little time for his sweetheart, Millicent. Sir George Carewe, Millicent’s father, is irritated by Jekyll’s highmindedness, observing that “No man could be as good as he looks”. After dinner one evening, Sir George lectures Jekyll about his lifestyle, insisting that every man is fundamentally composed of two “selves” which are in continual conflict. He opines that “a man cannot destroy the savage in him by denying its impulses”, and that “the only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it”. He takes Jekyll to a nightclub and arranges a liaison with Gina, one of the dancers. Jekyll backs away. [1]

Reflecting on Sir George’s comments, Jekyll begins private research into ways of separating out the two basic natures of man, the good and the evil. He manages to develop a potion that transforms him into a hideous, evil counterpart that he calls “Hyde”, along with a counter-potion to reverse the effect. As Hyde, Jekyll is not recognizable as himself, so to facilitate his evil counterpart’s access to his home and laboratory, the doctor informs his servant Poole that his friend Mr. Hyde is to have full access. Jekyll begins to live a double life: by day a compassionate and gentlemanly doctor, and by night a lustful, hunchbacked creature who ventures out to opium dens, bars, and music halls to satisfy his “dark indulgences”. He rents a small furnished room and brings Gina to live with him. Soon, however, Hyde tires of her company and ejects her. Each time Jekyll takes the potion to become Hyde, he becomes increasingly depraved and physically more hideous. [1]


  • John Barrymore as Dr. Henry Jekyll / Mr. Hyde / giant spider in dream
  • Martha Mansfield as Millicent Carewe, Sir George’s daughter
  • Nita Naldi as Gina, Italian exotic dancer
  • Brandon Hurst as Sir George Carewe
  • Charles Willis Lane as Dr. Richard Lanyon, friend of Jekyll
  • Cecil Clovelly as Edward Enfield
  • Louis Wolheim as music hall proprietor


The early part of Jekyll’s initial transformation into Hyde was achieved with no makeup, instead relying solely on Barrymore’s ability to contort his face [2].

In one scene, as Jekyll becomes Hyde, one of Hyde’s prosthetic fingers can be seen to fly across the screen, having been shaken loose by Barrymore’s convulsions[2].


“Barrymore’s over the top performance was considered to be the best thing about the film in 1920 and it still is the best thing about it today, though I certainly understand why it may not be everyone’s cup of tea.” [3]


[1] Wikipedia

[2] IMDb

[2] moviessilently.com

Last updated byCody Meirick on December 2, 2023