• Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a 1920 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. John S. Robertson directed the production, and Clara Beranger wrote the screenplay, based on the 1887 stage play by Thomas Russell Sullivan that in turn was based on the novel.Original release date: March 28, 1920

    The story, set in late Victorian London, portrays the tragic consequences of a doctor's experiments in separating the dual personalities he thinks define all humans: one good, the other evil.Henry Jekyll (John Barrymore) is a doctor of medicine living and working in London in the late 1880s. When he is not treating the poor in his free clinic, he is in his laboratory experimenting. Sir George Carew (Brandon Hurst), the father of Jekyll’s fiancé Millicent (Martha Mansfield), is suspicious of the young doctor’s intentions and often irritated by his tardiness and high-mindedness. 'No man', Carew observes, 'could be as good as he looks.' Following dinner one evening, Carew taunts his prospective son-in-law in front of their mutual friends and debates with him about the causes and effects of a person's personality, insisting that every man is fundamentally composed of two 'selves' who are in continual conflict. 'A man cannot destroy the savage in him by denying its impulses', instructs Carew. 'The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it.'Reflecting on Sir George's comments, Jekyll begins his research and experiments into separating the two basic natures of man, the good and the evil.Directed by John S. RobertsonProduced by Adolph Zukor & Jesse L. LaskyWritten by Clara Beranger & Thomas Russell Sullivan (1887 stage play)Based on Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis StevensonCastJohn Barrymore as Dr. Henry Jekyll / Mr. Edward Hyde/giant spider in dreamBrandon Hurst as Sir George CareweMartha Mansfield as Millicent Carewe, Sir George's daughterCharles Willis Lane as Dr. Richard LanyonCecil Clovelly as Edward EnfieldNita Naldi as Gina, the Italian exotic dancerLouis Wolheim as music hall proprietorUncreditedJ. Malcolm Dunn as John UttersonGeorge Stevens as Poole, Jekyll's butlerAlma Aiken as distraught woman in Jekyll's officeJulia Hurley[8] as Hyde's old landladyEdgard Varèse as policemanBlanche Ring as woman with elderly man in music hallFerdinand Gottschalk as elderly man in music hallMay Robson as old harridan standing outside music hall

  • Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror (German: Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens) is a 1922 silent German Expressionist horror film directed by F. W. Murnau and starring Max Schreck as Count Orlok, a vampire with an interest in both a new residence and the wife (Greta Schröder) of his estate agent (Gustav von Wangenheim). The film is an unauthorized and unofficial adaptation of Bram Stoker's 1897 novel Dracula.

    Original release date: March 4, 1922

    In 1838, in the fictional German town of Wisborg, Thomas Hutter is sent to Transylvania by his employer, estate agent Herr Knock, to visit a new client named Count Orlok who plans to buy a house across Hutter's own home. While embarking on his journey, Hutter stops at an inn where the locals become frightened by the mere mention of Orlok's name. What ensues on his journey explains why.

  • The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (German: Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari) is a 1920 German silent horror film, directed by Robert Wiene and written by Hans Janowitz and Carl Mayer. Considered the quintessential work of German Expressionist cinema, it tells the story of an insane hypnotist (Werner Krauss) who uses a somnambulist (Conrad Veidt) to commit murders. The film features a dark and twisted visual style, with sharp-pointed forms, oblique and curving lines, structures and landscapes that lean and twist in unusual angles, and shadows and streaks of light painted directly onto the sets. Original air date: 26 February 1920.

    The script was inspired by various experiences from the lives of Janowitz and Mayer, both pacifists who were left distrustful of authority after their experiences with the military during World War I. The film makes use of a frame story, with a prologue and epilogue which, in a twist ending, reveals the main narrative is actually the delusion of a madman. Janowitz has said this device was forced upon the writers against their will. The film's design was handled by Hermann Warm, Walter Reimann and Walter Röhrig, who recommended a fantastic, graphic style over a naturalistic one.

     

    The film thematizes brutal and irrational authority. Writers and scholars have argued the film reflects a subconscious need in German society for a tyrant, and is an example of Germany's obedience to authority and unwillingness to rebel against deranged authority. Some critics have interpreted Caligari as representing the German war government, with Cesare symbolic of the common man conditioned, like soldiers, to kill. Other themes of the film include the destabilized contrast between insanity and sanity, the subjective perception of reality, and the duality of human nature.

     

    The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari was released just as foreign film industries were easing restrictions on the import of German films following World War I, so it was screened internationally. Accounts differ as to its financial and critical success upon release, but modern film critics and historians have largely praised it as a revolutionary film. Critic Roger Ebert called it arguably 'the first true horror film', and film reviewer Danny Peary called it cinema's first cult film and a precursor for arthouse films. Considered a classic, it helped draw worldwide attention to the artistic merit of German cinema and had a major influence on American films, particularly in the genres of horror and film noir.

Un Homme de Têtes [The Four Troublesome Heads] (1898)

The Four Troublesome Heads (French: Un homme de têtes, literally “A Man of Heads”), also known as Four Heads Are Better Than One, is an 1898 French silent film directed by Georges Méliès.

▸▸Méliès’s Star Film Company #167

PLOT
A magician enters the frame and stands between two tables. He removes his own head and puts it on one of the tables, where it starts talking and looking around. The magician repeats the action twice, with a new head appearing on his shoulders each time, until four identical heads are presented at once. The magician then plays a banjo, and all four heads sing along. He then bashes two of the heads with his banjo over their obnoxious singing, making them disappear. He then takes off his head and tosses it aside before taking the other head from the second table, tossing it in the air and it lands back onto his neck. He bows to the viewers, bids them farewell and then strolls off.

PRODUCTION
Méliès himself plays the magician in the film, which takes advantage of his sense of rhythm, his tendency for elegant gestural movements, and his talent for mime. The Four Troublesome Heads features one of the first known uses of multiple exposure of objects on a black background on film, a special effect Méliès went on to use prolifically. It also marks the first known time Méliès filmed living heads or other body parts separated from the rest of the body, which would become a favorite motif of his. Here, the trick was handled using substitution splices and four separate exposures.
The film was released by Méliès’s Star Film Company and is numbered 167 in its catalogues. An illegal print of the film, copied without authorization from Méliès, was released in America in 1903 by Siegmund Lubin under the title Four Heads Are Better Than One. Film critic William B. Parrill, reviewing silent films in the 2010s, called it “doubtless a wonder when it appeared, the first of a wonderful comic line which produced not only detachable body parts but also the replication of any number of magical reproductions of own image.”

CREATORS
Directed by Georges Méliès
Written by Georges Méliès
Starring Georges Méliès

Original release date:
1898

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