Don Juan

Overview

Historically important as the first film to carry a Vitaphone sound track consisting of music and sound effects, but no dialogue Don Juan is a first-rate production by any standards, and would have been just as good with or without musical accompaniment. John Barrymore plays the legendary lover Don Juan, raised by his cynical father also played by Barrymore to "love 'em and leave 'em," and to never trust any woman. All of this changes when he meets the beautiful Adriana Della Varnese Mary Astor. When it seems ...
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Overview

Historically important as the first film to carry a Vitaphone sound track consisting of music and sound effects, but no dialogue Don Juan is a first-rate production by any standards, and would have been just as good with or without musical accompaniment. John Barrymore plays the legendary lover Don Juan, raised by his cynical father also played by Barrymore to "love 'em and leave 'em," and to never trust any woman. All of this changes when he meets the beautiful Adriana Della Varnese Mary Astor. When it seems that Adriana has betrayed him in favor of a wealthy marriage to the lecherous Count Donati Montague Love, Don Juan renounces her and returns to his rakish ways. What he doesn't know is that Adriana is a political pawn, who has been forced into an alliance with Donati by the calculating Borgias Estelle Taylor and Noah Beery Sr.. By the time Don Juan finds out that his true love is still true, he has been tossed in prison for killing Donati in a spectacular duel. He breaks out, rescues Adriana from the Borgias' torture chamber, and escapes with his beloved to the safety of Spain. The plot is, of course, more complicated than that, but so fascinating is John Barrymore's performance that it's difficult to concentrate on anything else. The film's highlights include the out-sized duel between Barrymore and Montagu Love, capped by Barrymore's spectacular leap from the top of a huge staircase, and the torture chamber sequences, wherein Barrymore sneaks past the Borgia guards by assuming the facial characteristics of fiendish torturer Gustav von Seyfertitz--and this without makeup. "In the know" film historians may read a lot more into the Barrymore/Mary Astor love scenes than is readily apparent, forearmed as they are with the knowledge that John and Mary had once been passionate lovers offscreen. Scenarist Bess Meredyth used the Lord Byron poem Don Juan as a mere stepping stone for this imaginative, exquisitely filmed romantic adventure.
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Special Features

Before the feature - the August 6, 1926 opening night vitaphone shorts program: Will B. Hays introduction to Vitaphone ; Overture to Tannhauser - New York Philharmonic ; Mischa Elman - Humoresque and Gavotte ; Roy Smeck in His Pastimes ; Marion Talley - Caro Nome ; Efrem Zimbalist and Harold Bauer - Theme and Variations from Kreutzer Sonata ; Giovanni Martinelli - Vesti La Giubba ; Anna Case - La Fiesta
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Richard Gilliam
Historically significant for its groundbreaking use of sound, Don Juan was no mere box-office gimmick. It indicates why John Barrymore was one of the top stars of the 1920s, and it features the crisp, rich cinematography of Byron Haskin, who would later direct some of the best episodes of the television series The Outer Limits. It was a hallmark of Haskin's career that he could create vivid, believable visual settings that were strange and wonderful to the viewers, whether in science fiction or historical romance. Directed by Alan Crosland at the height of his career, Don Juan was an enormous box-office success, leading Warner Bros. to ask Crosland to helm an even more complex sound project, The Jazz Singer.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 4/22/2011
  • UPC: 883316126080
  • Original Release: 1926
  • Source: Warner Archives
  • Time: 3:20:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 52,105

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
John Barrymore Don Jose de Marana/Don Juan de Marana
Mary Astor Adriona Della Varnese
Willard Louis Perdillo
Estelle Taylor Lucretia Borgia
Warner Oland Cesare Borgia
Montagu Love Count Giano Donati
Myrna Loy Mai, Lady in Waiting
Helene Costello Rena, Adriona's Maid
Jane Winton Donna Isobel
John Roche Leandro
June Marlowe Trusia
Yvonne Day Don Juan, at Age 5
Philippe DeLacy Don Juan, at Age 10
John George Hunchback
Josef Swickard Duke Della Vamese
Lionel Braham Duke Margoni
Phyllis Haver Imperia
Hedda Hopper Marquise Rinaldo
Gibson Gowland Gentlemen of Rome
Sheldon Lewis Gentlemen of Rome
Dick Sutherland Gentleman of Rome
Gustav von Seyffertitz Neri, the Alchemist
Nigel de Brulier Marchese Rinaldo
Emily Fitzroy The Dowager
Helen Lee Worthing Eleanora
Helena D'Algy Donna Elvira, Murderess of Jose
Technical Credits
Alan Crosland Director
Dr. William Axt Score Composer
Ben Carre Art Director
Byron Haskin Cinematographer
Harold McCord Editor
Bess Meredyth Screenwriter
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Menu

Disc #1 -- Don Juan
   Play All
   Play Feature
   Vitaphone Shorts
      Hon. Will H. Hays President of the Motion Picture Producers & Distributors of America, Inc. Who Will Address You
      Overture "Tannhauser" by Richard Wager Played by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra Henry Hadley Conducting 314
      Mischa Elman Playing A: "Humoresque" - Dvor├ík B: "Gavotte" - Gossec Josef Bonime at the Piano 275
      Roy Smeck The Wizard of the String in "His Pastimes" 302
      Marton Talley Youthful Prima Donna of the New York Metropolitan Opera
      Efrem Zimbalist & Harold Bauer Playing Theme and Variations From The Kreutzer Sonata" by Beethoven|}|
      Giovanni Martinelli Tenor of the N.Y. Metropolitan Opera Company in "Vesti La Giubba from the Opera "I Pagliacci" by Leoncavallo 198|}|
      Anna Case in "La Fiesta"
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