"You come here often?"
I'd heard good things about this picture for awhile now. You already know the story: Dr Jekyll invents a potion that enables man to be split into two separate entities, one wholly good, one entirely evil. Combine that with John Barrymore (and you all know what a fan of Jack I am), and, well...I was a little disappointed that I didn't enjoy the picture more than I did! I found it stagy and stilted, even (dare I say it?) boring in some places. There were, however, two bright spots: the famous Barrymore transformation scene(s), and Nita Naldi, as the dancer in whom the terrible Hyde indulges his lust.
Many people have written about the moment Dr Jekyll becomes Mr Hyde, and with good reason; when Jack takes the potion, without any help from special effects, he becomes another person. He thrashes, he tears at his clothes and hair, and a sinister aspect settles over him like a cloak, right in front of your eyes. In this age of CGI, it's nothing short of miraculous, and fascinating to watch. (His transformation back to Jekyll is no less amazing, even with the small blooper of a prosthetic finger flying off.)
Nita Naldi, as Gina the Italian dancer, is not beautiful - not in the typical way of her time - but there is a sensuality about her; an earthiness that is very attractive, more so than the squeaky-clean and incredibly dull Millicent Carew (Martha Mansfield). Naldi is seductive. Her eyes hold carnal promises. It's not difficult to see how Jekyll was aroused by her, how Hyde desired her (and Barrymore, for that matter).
There are moments of tension and excitement, and the rest of the cast plays amicably, but for the most part, excepting the aforementioned bright spots, it was mediocre for me.
I give this one: