Considered one of the great actors — of both stage and screen — of his day, John Barrymore is the subject of an eponymous new box set from Kino, featuring four of the performer's silent pictures made between 1920 and 1928. Showing off his wide range of skills and charms, the set reminds us why the performer was once so beloved by audiences, and why he deserves to continue to be so. Despite his stage training and theatrical family background (he came from a long line of actors, and his siblings were the equally renowned Lionel and Ethel), John had a natural presence on screen. He may be best remembered for his screwball hamming in Twentieth Century (1934) opposite Carole Lombard, but he is anything but histrionic or over-the-top in these four films. His subtle but communicative control of bodily and facial gestures, debonair persona and iconic good looks make for a commanding screen presence.
Cullen Gallagher is a Brooklyn-based writer whose work has appeared in Beat to a Pulp, Crimefactory, Film Comment, The L Magazine, Bright Lights Film Journal, The Brooklyn Rail, Fandor, Not Coming to a Theater Near You, Hammer to Nail, Moving Image Source, Spinetingler, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Between Lavas, Reverse Shot, and Guitar Review.