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John Barrymore Night


pandorainmay
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Do you like John Barrymore?

barrymore20s.jpg

I have a weakness for the three siblings, though my favorite Barrymore is Ethel. Still, I'll watch each of them in just about anything to see what they were up to in a film and what stage they might have been in during this part of their lives. While I would love to stumble on that missing wayback machine to see J.B. on stage back in the day in The Jest or Hamlet or Clair de Lune, I'll settle for three movies that the guy did and that I love: Twentieth Century, Counsellor-at-Law and the oft-mentioned The Great Man Votes.

 

Unfortunately, those aren't on the TCM schedule tonight, but here's the rundown below for this evening, along with my off the top of my head, unsolicited opinions. I'm looking for your thoughts on these films and Barrymore as well. If you have a yen for something really oddball, I'd go for The Mad Genius, which is quite loopy, and entertaining. Blink and you'll miss Boris Karloff in the first few minutes. Since I like Katharine Hepburn in the '30s in movies more than later, A Bill of Divorcement has moments between Barrymore and Kate, thanks to George Cukor's keeping a tight rein on the theatrics. Topaze is good, cynical fun, with a delicious Myrna as a sympathetic seductress and, for once, Barrymore is a naive Jack.

 

I've never seen Beau Brummel, but fear that it might be one of those over-the-top silent performances on Barrymore's part. Prove me wrong, please, guys. Tell me what to look for? I want to like it and hope that the new score applied to it is good. Thanks.

 

Beau Brummel (1924) 8pm ET

In this silent film, the legendary dandy takes on British society to court a lady above his station. Cast: John Barrymore, Mary Astor, Willard Louis. Dir: Harry Beaumont. BW-128 mins, TV-G

 

The Mad Genius (1931) 10:15pm ET

A deranged ballet teacher will stop at nothing to keep control of his protegee. Cast: John Barrymore, Marian Marsh, Donald Cook. Dir: Michael Curtiz. BW-81 mins, TV-14

 

A Bill of Divorcement (1932) 11:45pm ET

A recovered madman learns his ex-wife and daughter are about to marry. Cast: John Barrymore, Katharine Hepburn, Billie Burke. Dir: George Cukor. BW-69 mins, TV-PG, CC

 

Topaze (1933) 1:00am ET

A simple schoolteacher gets caught up in a wealthy baron's crooked schemes. Cast: John Barrymore, Myrna Loy, Reginald Mason. Dir: Harry D'Abbadie D'Arrast. BW-79 mins, TV-PG, CC

 

Beau Brummel (1924) 2:30 AM

Repeat of the silent.

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I adore John, he's one of my favorite actors of all time and I feel always a strong

sensation of sympathy for the tragedy of what his alcoholism, and whatever other inner

demons plagued him, did to him. He was what the French would describe as

"un monstre sacre", an artist different and apart by the magnitude of his gifts and his flaws.

 

*Beau Brummel* is not the silent I would have chosen and it's a role Barrymore

proftessed to loathe---it put him off effeminate costume dramas permanently.

I find it very pretty to look at but I like it the least of all the silents I've seen so far.

*The Beloved Rogue, Tempest* and *Don Juan* are the masterpieces I would have chosen.

*Topaze* is a sterling performance, a real disappearing act by the man. That such a strong

personality could so completely submerge himself in a character like the little professor

is just so impressive to me.

 

His early silents give me a glimpse of why his talent was so highly regarded, so much

so that he managed, as an American, to win over the sternest English critics with his

Shakespearean performances and productions.

 

I'm so glad TCM is honoring him tonight, bravissimo!

 

Barrymore as *Don Juan*

 

JBinDonJuan.jpg

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"The Mad Genius" was wild. John B. acted rings around everyone. I did not expect the amount of humor (the "typist" telling the story of the ballet he had written and John's reaction). Very entertaining movie. I'll have to watch the others later.

 

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Jack is my favorite sibling, with the most God-given talent.

 

I loved THE MAD GENIUS; it was like SVENGALI MEETS THE RED SHOES, blending the semi-expressionistic sets and loathsome-but-charismatic villian of the former, with the intense, live-for-your-art tyrannical maestro of the latter, here amplified and referenced in a supernatural, metaphysical, horror-movie sense (by Barrymore) through the theme of Creator and creation; i.e., the Golem and Frankenstein, and given devilish power (albeit with very human emotions) by John's delightfully nuanced performance. I at first balked at the casting of Donald Cook as the "marionette", thinking only of this actor as the upright and moralistic big brother of Cagney in PUBLIC ENEMY and in any number of other goody-goody roles, but as it turns out he's the perfect conduit for Barrymore's insidiously vicarious dreams of artistic fulfillment, and Cook actually manages to appear somewhat romantic and passionate (although certainly conflicted, due to his symbiotic relationship with his "mentor") in the scenes with his love object, Marion Marsh (was there ever a more adorable looking actress?), as they struggle to maintain normalcy and independence, away from Barrymore's relentless and cruel pursuit. The atmosphere, replete with garrets, ballet, dancers, puppets, Paris, Russia, shadows on the wall, lends a romantically tragic and fantastical air to the story. Barrymore is magnificent, Charles Butterworth a strange distraction (although some of the humor is welcome) The ending was a letdown; I was expecting some symbolic confrontation.

 

I unfortunately missed the early part with Karloff. (I didn't blink; nature called instead)

 

Message was edited by: Bronxgirl48

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Hiya, Moira and what a wonderful tribute to one of filmdom's true masters! Like you, I've always been fascinated by the Barrymores and have brought nearly every book I can find about them. I've even got "Too Much, Too Soon," by Diana Barrymore who proved that inheriting such a legacy can lead to tragedy.

 

One movie that a true John Barrymore fan should never see is Universal's l941 THE GREAT PROFILE. Unless you're into ****, we have the hideous spectacle of John Barrymore degrading his genius and his male beauty in a script that has him as a punching bag. It is beyond depressing to watch. He made it strictly for money to pay his bills. And he does look horrible and he died very soon after making it.

 

That's why we should rejoice in seeing him at his peak in his silents. thanks for the great roundup.

 

The Princess

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i just love him, i watched the movies last night, he is so gorgeous, but I love him the most as the thirf in Grand Hotel, what a wonderful, sexy yet gentle speaking voice, it is so well displayed in his love scenes with Miss Garbo - she adored him too! play more John Barrymore, Tcm , please!

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Bronxgirl- that was amazing. I wish I could see the whole play.

 

I love Barrymore. I read "Good Night, Sweet Prince" by Gene Fowler when I was in my twenties, and it left a lasting impression.

 

My favorite is Dinner at Eight. He is grand, egotistical, broken down, and heroic all at the same time.

 

I actually had a dream about Barrymore once. It was probably the result of an overactive imagination, but in the dream I met him, late in his life. He was very kind to me and gave me a book. I don't know why I dreamt it, but I have always felt a great fondness for him.

 

I only caught the end of Beau Brummel, but what I saw was really good. Barrymore was an old man. His valet or butler thinks he is mad, but we see him talking to the ghosts of his past. I thought this scene, although I took it out of context, was very fine. I can't wait to watch the whole thing. I fell asleep during The Mad Genius, unfortunately, and I didn't have enough space on my hard drive to tape it.

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Hi Jackie---Goodnight, Sweet Prince made quite an impression upon me, too. It's one of my most cherished biographies.

 

Bronxie---I watched John's Richard III, many thanks. It was glorious. Like getting a taste of a scrumptious crumb, but being denied the feast. ;)

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I remember reading "Goodnight Sweet Price" too and it always stuck with me. I bonded with John as well. I would have liked to have had your dream!

 

I like how in DINNER AT EIGHT, when he's thinking of committing suicide, he makes sure the light from the lamp casts the perfect glow on his face as he prepares for his last "performance".

 

Wasn't able to see BEAU BRUMMEL. So sorry you missed THE MAD GENIUS. It's sort of a follow-up to SVENGALI, but with its own eccentric chams.

 

IRL he apparently was a very sweet and kind man. I'm sure Katherine Hepburn thought so, as he generously offered her encouragement and advice during A BILL OF DIVORCEMENT.

 

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Bronxgirl - the story I heard/read somewhere was that Kate Hepburn said John Barrymore propositioned her in her dressing room while they were filming Bill of Divorcement.She was turned off because he was wearing his ratty old make-up stained bathrobe when he hit on her.

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Miss H. talks about that in her autobiography, and according to her at least it wasn't anything new. He was trying his usual pass on the new actress,in town and when he wasn't getting any response things went on and he was very helpful for the rest of the shoot. He could and did behave outrageously at times, especially if he was in his cups.

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Though I have no proof, I think Kate was having a little fun with Barrymore. One could also interpret it as a more delicate way to say no, thank you, so as not to bruise his ego. Then again, she didn't seem to mind bruising an ego here and there.

 

I found these pictures at the New York Public Library website. Rather interesting to see him as a young man.

 

Barrymore at 15

Photobucket

Barrymore in 1905

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Barrymore in 1914

Photobucket

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I came across that one yesterday myself of John and his baby daughter, it's so sweet isn't it?

 

If any of you haven't seen TEMPEST, I highly recommend it as one of his best and most romantic silents. It's on dvd. This is a still from it:

 

jbarrymoreinTempest.jpg

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