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Hamlet Lives in Hollywood

John Barrymore and the Acting Tradition Onscreen

Edited by Murray Pomerance, Steven Rybin


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Analyses the complexity of John Barrymore's performances and career trajectory

John Barrymore’s influence on screen and stage in the early twentieth century is incalculable. His performances in the theatre defined Shakespeare for a generation, and his transition to cinema brought his theatrical performativity to both silent and sound screens. This book, a collection of fifteen original essays on the film performances and stardom of John Barrymore, redresses this lack of scholarship on Barrymore by offering a range of varied perspectives on the actor’s work. Looking at his performances and influence from the perspectives of gender studies, psychoanalysis, queer studies and performance analysis, Hamlet Lives in Hollywood represents a major attempt by contemporary scholars to come to terms with the ongoing vitality of John Barrymore’s work in our present day.

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Steven Rybin and Murray Pomerance

1. The Pre-Bard Stage Career of John Barrymore, Philip Carli

2. Dangerously Modern: Shakespeare, Voice, and the ‘New Psychology’ in John Barrymore’s ‘Unstable’ Characters, Michael Hammond

3. The Curious Case of Sherlock Holmes, Colin Williamson

4. John Barrymore’s Introspective Performance in Beau Brummel, Martin Shingler

5. "Keep back your pity": The wounded Barrymore of The Sea Beast (1926) and Moby Dick (1930), Dominic Lennard

6. From Rome to Berlin: Barrymore as Romantic Lover, Douglas McFarland

7. The Power of Stillness: John Barrymore’s Performance in Svengali 1931, Diane Carson

8. Prospero Unbound: John Barrymore’s Theatrical Transformations of Cinema Reality, George Toles

9. A Star is Dead: Barrymore’s Anti-Christian Metaperformance, Kyle Stevens

10. Handling Time: The Passing of Tradition in A Bill of Divorcement, Daniel Varndell

11. John Barrymore’s Sparkling Topaze. Steven Rybin

12. "Planes, Motors, Schedules": Night Flight and the Modernity of John Barrymore, Will Scheibel

13. Barrymore and the Scene of Acting: Gesture, Speech, asnd the Repression of Cinematic Performance, Barry Langford

14. "I Never Thought I Should Sink So Low as to Become an Actor": John Barrymore in Twentieth Century, William Rothman

15. Barrymore Does Barrymore: The Performing Self Triumphant in The Great Profile, R. Barton Palmer

Works Cited and Consulted



About the Author

Murray Pomerance is an independent scholar living in Toronto. He is the author of many books including The Man Who Knew Too Much (BFI, 2016), A King of Infinite Space (Oberon, 2017) and Moment of Action: Riddles of Cinematic Performance (Rutgers, 2016).

Steven Rybin is Assistant Professor of Film Studies at Minnesota State University, Mankato.

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