Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with the Invincible Czarz

In 1920, actor John Barrymore was perhaps the most famous man on earth. Handsome and charismatic, he was known for his great profile. (He looks pretty good from the front, too.) That’s something you’ll see quick enough in today’s KUHF Silent Film Concert Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Paramount Pictures’ silent classic. Based on R.L. Stevenson’s phenomenally successful Victorian novel of man’s dual nature, the classic film has every other shot of Barrymore in profile. Barrymore’s Jekyll is as unfaithful an adaptation as any others — the first was filmed in prehistoric 1908, and other famous versions star Fredric March (1931) and Spencer Tracy (1941) — but Barrymore adds a panoply of stage technique to evil Hyde, and the transformation scene is a marvelous blend of naked ham and Max Factor. Rendered appropriately claustrophobic on the back lot in Astoria, Queens, Victorian London has authentic-looking brick arch-ways, numerous gaslights and lots of atmospheric fog. In one of the most impressively chilling of silent cinema images — the kind great movies were known for — Jekyll, debauched and getting weaker, lying in bed, is symbolically overcome by a giant spider. It’s absolutely frightening — and delicious. Live musical accompaniment for today’s screening is provided by the Invincible Czars of Austin. 8:30 pm. Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney. For information, call 713-400-7336 or visit www.discoverygreen.com. Free.
Fri., June 10, 8:30 p.m., 2011

 
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