Silent Screams – the mighty Wurlitzer and Jekyll & Hyde

John Barrymore in Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde *****

Troxy Cinema and the Mighty Wurlitzer


Well, this was a night to remember (thanks I should add, to swimming pals at Tooting Bec’s one and only live-wire South London Swimming Club) – a viewing of the 1920 silent film of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde starring John Barrymore at his most  wild-eyed, white eye-balls disappearing into his back forehead somewhere.John_Barrymore_as_Dr_Jekyll

© Paramount Pictures
© Paramount Pictures


What a terrific film, truly thrilling but what made it even more glorious was the magnificence of the Troxy Cinema (once the home of the Royal Opera House’s London Opera Centre), opened in 1933 to seat over 3000 people and still intact, Art Deco features still in their full unblemished finery. Absolutely extraordinary in this day and age when everything that can possibly be bulldozed or go under the hammer, goes under the hammer.Troxy Cinema, London. Nov 2015

And to add lustre to glory, the film accompanied by a dazzling display by Donald Mackenzie on the Mighty Wurlitzer Organ, recently lovingly rebuilt, pulling out all the stops (and that is considerable given four keyboards and 241 stop-keys).the mighty Wurlitzer, Troxy Cinema, London. Nov 2015

Wonderful transformations by Barrymore from the upright, clean-shaven citizen that is Dr Jekyll, doing good in dirty Dickensian London (pre-NHS, gives you pause for thought even if ghoulishly presented via Hollywood imaginations) to the hairy alter ego that is Hyde.

Great stuff and preceded by Stan Laurel’s slapstick take-off, Dr Pyckle and Mr Pryde (1925).

Give me this rather than 2015 Spectre any day.

More, much more please.