Thanhouser Silent Films (1909 to 1917)

Visit thanhouser.org to learn more about Thanhouser silent films.
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: One reel of approximately 1,000 feet, January 16, 1912.

James Cruze featured as Jekyll/Hyde in this second U.S. film version of the classic novel by Robert Lewis Stevenson.

Based on the Thomas Russell Sullivan stage adaptation (with romantic story added) for Richard Mansfield, of the novel by Robert Louis Stevenson. Directed by Lucius Henderson.
Print source: Blackhawk Films, 11 minutes, 31 seconds
Cast: James Cruze (Jekyll/Hyde), Harry Benham (Hyde in several scenes), Florence LaBadie (his sweetheart), Marie Eline (little girl knocked down by Hyde).
Original music composed and performed by Andrew Crow (thanhouser.org/people/crowa.htm.)

This famous tale, made even more sensational by Richard Mansfield's stage performance, was filmed in at least nine silent versions. Thanhouser's was the second U. S. film version, after Selig in 1908, but was the first based on the stage adaptation.

The Thanhouser version downplays the horror element in favor of the thematic conflict between the good and evil sides of one personality. Perhaps unique among all Jekyll/Hyde adaptations is using two actors to portray the two aspects of the same character. The credits list James Cruze in both parts, but Harry Benham played the crazed Hyde in several scenes, simplifying production. Transformation trickery was done with careful cuts and quick in-camera dissolves with no changes in lighting.

This film is available on DVD from Thanhouser Company Film Preservation, Inc. at thanhouser.org.

j vimeo.com/20026199

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