Thursday, Nov. 19, 2009

The John Barrymore Collection

Now known mainly as Drew's grandfather, John Barrymore was a matinee idol, a Shakespearean star and the leading light of the acting dynasty lovingly parodied in the current Broadway revival The Royal Family. He degenerated into alcoholism and demeaning film roles, but in his early 20th century prime he brought class, sex and emotive power to the upstart movie medium. This box set collects four of Barrymore's silent-movie triumphs: as Sherlock Holmes, as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (a pioneer in Hollywood horror pictures), as the poet François Villon in The Beloved Rogue and as an upstart Russian soldier just before the Red Revolution. With an instinct for the camera's demand for intimacy within spectacle, Barrymore brought these grand characters and their films to thrilling life. Nearly a century later, the Great Profile is still a great actor. — Richard Corliss
Price: $53.99 at Amazon