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John Barrymore's Dynamic Range As An Actor


TomJH
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I've mentioned this before but, having been once again knocked out by the power of John Barrymore's dramatic performance in Councillor at Law, I am, as always, struck by his remarkable range as an actor. Think about it.

Horror

REVIEW - 'Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde' (1920) | The Movie Buff

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Swashbuckling Costume Adventure

Don Juan (1926) - IMDb

Don Juan

Swashbuckling Costume Adventure (laced with comedy)

Cube: The Beloved Rogue (1927)

Beloved Rogue

Grand Guignol

svengali | Explore Tumblr Posts and Blogs | Tumgir

Svengali, Mad Genius

Debonair Romantic

Grand Hotel (1932): Best Picture Oscar, Starring Garbo, the Barrymores (John  and Lionel), Joan Crawford | Emanuel Levy

Arsene Lupin, Grand Hotel

Character Work (both Comedic and Dramatic)

Topaze (1933) - IMDb  Counsellor at Law (1933) - Turner Classic Movies

Topaze, Bill of Divorcement, Councillor at Law, Dinner at Eight

Screwball comedy

Carole Lombard and John Barrymore are a perfect match in Twentieth Century  (1934) | Carole lombard, Lombard, John barrymore

20th Century

Shakespearean Drama

File:Romeo and Juliet scene 3.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

Romeo and Juliet

 

Can anyone think of another actor who could match Barrymore when it came to the variety of different roles he could play?

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1 hour ago, LuckyDan said:

Nicholson talked about letting the costumes do the acting.

Actually, Olivier said much the same thing. He said he felt uncomfortable in a regular suit, but put him in Shakespeare with some costume get up and shifts to character with ease.

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I've mentioned this before but, having been once again knocked out by the power of John Barrymore's dramatic performance in Councillor at Law, I am, as always, struck by his remarkable range as an actor. Think about it.

Horror

REVIEW - 'Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde' (1920) | The Movie Buff

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Swashbuckling Costume Adventure

Don Juan (1926) - IMDb

Don Juan

Swashbuckling Costume Adventure (laced with comedy)

Cube: The Beloved Rogue (1927)

Beloved Rogue

Grand Guignol

svengali | Explore Tumblr Posts and Blogs | Tumgir

Svengali, Mad Genius

Debonair Romantic

Grand Hotel (1932): Best Picture Oscar, Starring Garbo, the Barrymores (John  and Lionel), Joan Crawford | Emanuel Levy

Arsene Lupin, Grand Hotel

Character Work (both Comedic and Dramatic)

Topaze (1933) - IMDb  Counsellor at Law (1933) - Turner Classic Movies

Topaze, Bill of Divorcement, Councillor at Law, Dinner at Eight

Screwball comedy

Carole Lombard and John Barrymore are a perfect match in Twentieth Century  (1934) | Carole lombard, Lombard, John barrymore

20th Century

****

Carole legs a-flailin' .  Cute.

And Barrymore, "...the final irony," a plusieurs reprises

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12 hours ago, TomJH said:

I've mentioned this before but, having been once again knocked out by the power of John Barrymore's dramatic performance in Councillor at Law, I am, as always, struck by his remarkable range as an actor. Think about it.

Horror

REVIEW - 'Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde' (1920) | The Movie Buff

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Swashbuckling Costume Adventure

Don Juan (1926) - IMDb

Don Juan

Swashbuckling Costume Adventure (laced with comedy)

Cube: The Beloved Rogue (1927)

Beloved Rogue

Grand Guignol

svengali | Explore Tumblr Posts and Blogs | Tumgir

Svengali, Mad Genius

Debonair Romantic

Grand Hotel (1932): Best Picture Oscar, Starring Garbo, the Barrymores (John  and Lionel), Joan Crawford | Emanuel Levy

Arsene Lupin, Grand Hotel

Character Work (both Comedic and Dramatic)

Topaze (1933) - IMDb  Counsellor at Law (1933) - Turner Classic Movies

Topaze, Bill of Divorcement, Councillor at Law, Dinner at Eight

Screwball comedy

Carole Lombard and John Barrymore are a perfect match in Twentieth Century  (1934) | Carole lombard, Lombard, John barrymore

20th Century

Shakespeare

File:Romeo and Juliet scene 3.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

Romeo and Juliet

 

Can anyone think of another actor who could match Barrymore when it came to the variety of different roles he could play?

I couldn't think of a match for Barrymore with the variety of roles he could play!  I loved him in so many films but especially in "Dinner at Eight" where he gave an inspired performance as a has-been picture star.  Barrymore shows comedy and human frailty.

A “completely modern” comedy of façades and human frailty, Dinner at Eight  still surprises | Library of America

 

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2 hours ago, Toto said:

I couldn't think of a match for Barrymore with the variety of roles he could play!  I loved him in so many films but especially in "Dinner at Eight" where he gave an inspired performance as a has-been picture star.  Barrymore shows comedy and human frailty.

A “completely modern” comedy of façades and human frailty, Dinner at Eight  still surprises | Library of America

 

Barrymore showed great courage in playing the role of has been actor Larry Renault in Dinner at Eight, a role that mirrored his own life (certainly his future) to a degree. The scene in which Lee Tracy, playing his agent, cruelly tells Renault the blunt truth about his appearance and future prospects as an actor is devastating to view.

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Agreed, agreed.

I've been collecting Barrymore movies for years because I've found anything with him in it is worth watching. I've been surprised how much I like Topaze, Arsene Lupin, The Great Man Votes, State's Attorney, etc

Barrymore is so great a performer, even in a silly diminished role he can elevate a movie.  I will never forget my delight seeing Barrymore in 1940's The Invisible Woman with Virginia Bruce. 

2bc2fb7a3cabf4e1bfcb2cec29be239a.jpg

Even though I had seen 20th Century several times, when seeing it screened with a group,  every single time Barrymore said in a tiny voice, "Ting-a-ling-a-ling" it cracked me up. I knew it was coming, there's just something about his expression, his delivery that makes it all work.

This is my favorite photo of Barrymore (it's framed here in my office)

Annex%20-%20Barrymore,%20John_03.jpg

This is the only movie I haven't been able to find-promising cast too-

True_Confession-_1937_Poster.png

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10 hours ago, Tikisoo said:

Oops I had forgotten to add this favorite Barrymore pic too:

Annex%20-%20Barrymore,%20John%20(World%2

I strongly suspect this photo, which I've never seen before and I thank you for posting it, TikiSoo, is in association with WORLD PREMIERE (1941), Barrymore's second last film. It's a screwball comedy, with a noteworthy cast, including Frances Farmer, Ricardo Cortez and Eugene Pallette, about Nazi agents out to sabotage the world premiere of a film of Hollywood producer Barrymore's. It's a pretty silly film with Barrymore's reading of his lines off a blackboard pretty obvious most of the time. Any film with that cast, though, is worth watching. Jack is, depending upon your viewpoint, either at his best or worst as a "ham" in this film. Unfortunately this Paramount production is not easy to find and, when I have stumbled across a copy of it, the copy is pretty bad.

By the way I think that Fritz Feld steals the show as an eccentric Nazi spy. At one point he gets into a fight with a tiger (that one in the cage behind Barrymore, I assume) and wins the fight after biting the big cat's tail.

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2 hours ago, Tikisoo said:

This is the only movie I haven't been able to find-promising cast too-

True_Confession-_1937_Poster.png

True Confession was impossible to find for years. There is a beautiful copy of it now as part of a six film collection in the Carole Lombard Glamour Collection. I happened to watch this screwball comedy again earlier this year. Lombard, by the way, grateful for Jack's assistance to her when they made 20th Century together, threatened to walk off the film if Barrymore wasn't hired for a bizarre supporting role.

Carole Lombard - The Glamour Collection (Hands Across the Table/ Love Before Breakfast/ Man of the World/ The Princess Comes Across/ True Confession/ We're Not Dressing)

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3569068_1000.jpg

This was one of Carole Lombard's proudest possessions. Tragic to think that both stars would be dead just months apart in 1942. I have often wondered if this priceless Barrymore inscribed photo still exists today. I assume Clark Gable had possession of it after his wife's death. Perhaps a Gable family member has it, assuming it hasn't been lost with time.

Pin by Jodine Johansson on | 1 9 3 0s e v e r y d a y | | Carole lombard,  Classic movie stars, John barrymoreJohn Barrymore and Clark Gable | John barrymore, Clark gable, Hollywood

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I would love to have seen him on stage.  I guess I'll have to settle for his films and thank goodness we have those to enjoy and I have five books on the Barrymores that I love to read every now and again. 

Whichever the film he's in with Kay Keiser, Patsy Kelly makes fun of John and it irks me to no end. 

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1 minute ago, Janet0312 said:

I would love to have seen him on stage.  I guess I'll have to settle for his films and thank goodness we have those to enjoy and I have five books on the Barrymores that I love to read every now and again. 

Whichever the film he's in with Kay Keiser, Patsy Kelly makes fun of John and it irks me to no end. 

But at least in Playmates Barrymore does have that one touching moment when he briefly relives his triumph as Hamlet.

Thank God Barrymore "sold out" and "went Hollywood." His work in his Hollywood pre code period, in particular, shines out for us, showing his frequent brilliance as an actor before drink got him by the throat.

In contrast, of his stage work, including Hamlet, one of the great highlights of his career, what have we got of it today outside of photographs and some reviews?

Hamlet, Act I: Scenes IV and V (Short 1933) - IMDb

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1 hour ago, TomJH said:

True Confession was impossible to find for years. There is a beautiful copy of it now as part of a six film collection in the Carole Lombard Glamour Collection.

THANKS! I just requested it from my library! I've never been a huge fan of Lombard, although like Laffite, thought her kicking towards a person was hilarious (my grandmother used to do that) Maybe my opinion of her will be raised a bit after seeing the collection.

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2 minutes ago, Tikisoo said:

THANKS! I just requested it from my library! I've never been a huge fan of Lombard, although like Laffite, thought her kicking towards a person was hilarious (my grandmother used to do that) Maybe my opinion of her will be raised a bit after seeing the collection.

Of the six films in the collection I like Hands Across the Table the most. Lombard is more subdued in this lovely romantic comedy as a manicurist hoping to break out of her rut by marrying a rich man. Sadly, I'm not a fan of True Confession but that is something for you to decide. Jack really hams it up this film, though some reviewers feel he's the best thing about the film.

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16 minutes ago, Sepiatone said:

Brother LIONEL wasn't too shabby.

Sepiatone

Lionel was a fine character actor but, beyond that, his range was limited.

Could he be a leading man like John? Could he play screwball comedy like John?

Look at Rasputin and the Empress, when MGM was looking for roles in which to cast all three Barrymores. LIonel played Rasputin (John predicted in advance that his brother would steal the film) while John got stuck with a less interesting conventional leading man role. (John does have a good time, at least, in the assassination scene).

My point is that Rasputin was the only prominent role in the film Lionel could have played but anyone who has seen Svengali knows that Jack Barrymore might have been a great Rasputin. John had far greater range than brother Lionel, in my opinion.

Strangers: The Three Barrymores in RASPUTIN AND THE EMPRESS (1932) – Once  upon a screen…

 

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On 9/19/2022 at 1:31 PM, Tikisoo said:

^^^Triple decker Ham Sandwich^^^

71a8bec2e8a65f08fc6926ebaf6538fb--herb-r

(I do think Drew has Ethel's profile...and dare I say, acting chops as well?)

Y'know,  I too, have noticed Drew taking on more of a resemblance to Ethel as Drew gets older.   And more in the whole face, not just the profile.

I had trouble finding an image of Drew not smiling and an image of Ethel smiling in order to compare.  :( 

And let's get down to that "famous" John Barrymore "profile".  :rolleyes:   I never saw what was supposed to be so "great" about it.  IMO, his worst feature by far.

Sepiatone

 

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1 hour ago, Sepiatone said:

And let's get down to that "famous" John Barrymore "profile".    I never saw what was supposed to be so "great" about it.

Well I think he's super gorgeous. Jack has perfectly even & symmetrical features, all the planes & ratios are excellent, as well as all angles & curves. Ethel is also quite beautiful & even featured, just a bit strong for a woman where "delicate" & more "child-like" is preferred. Lionel's face got all the strength but sadly, none of the beauty. But boy, those Barrymores sure knew EXACTLY how to use their faces in acting!

That speech Mr Potter gives to George Bailey where he says, "..how'd you like being the biggest man in town? Travel for business...maybe even Europe!" is just an incredible study in manipulative facial expressions-watch it without sound.

main-qimg-77bd64f5d0bd56ecdde74b007f0526

(I'm just the flunky pushing the wheelchair, but support my boss' anger)

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