Don Juan (1926 film)

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Don Juan
theatrical release poster
Directed by Alan Crosland
Written by Walter Anthony (intertitles)
Maude Fulton (intertitles)
Victor Vance (art titles)
Screenplay by Bess Meredyth
Based on Don Juan
by Lord Byron
Starring John Barrymore
Music by William Axt
David Mendoza
Cinematography Byron Haskin
Edited by Harold McCord
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release date
  • August 6, 1926 (1926-08-06) (NYC)
  • February 19, 1927 (1927-02-19) (US)
  • [1] ([1])
Running time
112 minutes
Country United States
Language Silent
Budget $789,963
Box office $1,693,000 (worldwide rental)[2]
First-nighters posing for the camera outside the Warners' Theatre before the premiere (August 6, 1926)

Don Juan is a 1926 American romantic Adventure film directed by Alan Crosland. It is the first feature-length film to utilize the Vitaphone sound-on-disc sound system with a synchronized musical score and sound effects, though it has no spoken dialogue.[3] The film is inspired by Lord Byron's 1821 epic poem of the same name. The screenplay was written by Bess Meredyth with intertitles by Maude Fulton and Walter Anthony.[4]

Don Juan stars John Barrymore as the hand-kissing womanizer.[4] The film has the most kisses in film history, with Barrymore kissing (all together) Mary Astor and Estelle Taylor 127 times.[5]


In the prologue, Don José, warned of his wife's infidelity, seals his wife's lover alive in his hiding place and drives her from the castle; abandoned to his lust, he is stabbed by his last mistress, and with his dying words he implores his son, Don Juan, to take all from women but yield nothing. Ten years later, young Don Juan, a graduate of the University of Pisa, is famous as a lover and pursued by many women, including the powerful Lucrezia Borgia, who invites him to her ball. His contempt for her incites her hatred of Adriana, the daughter of the Duke Della Varnese, with whom he is enraptured; and Lucrezia plots to marry her to Count Giano Donati, one of the Borgia henchmen, and poison the duke. Don Juan intervenes and thwarts the scheme, winning the love of Adriana, but the Borgia declare war on the duke's kinsmen, offering them safety if Adriana marries Donati; Don Juan is summoned to the wedding, but he prefers death to marriage with Lucrezia. He escapes and kills Donati in a duel. The lovers are led to the death-tower, but while Adriana pretends suicide, he escapes; and following a series of battles, he defeats his pursuers and is united with Adriana.



Between takes during filming of "La Fiesta"

Don Juan premiered August 5, 1926, at the Warners' Theatre in New York City, New York[1] preceded by a program of other shorts demonstrating Vitaphone.[6]

Title Year
Hon. Will H. Hays, President of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America, Who Will Address You 1926
New York Philharmonic - Overture to "Tannhäuser" 1926
Mischa Elman - "Humoresque" and "Gavotte" 1926
Roy Smeck The Wizard of the String in "His Pastimes" 1926
Marion Talley - "Caro Nome" from "Rigoletto" 1926
Efrem Zimbalist and Harold Bauer - Theme and Variations from "The Kreutzer Sonata" 1926
Giovanni Martinelli - "Vesti La Giubba" 1926
Anna Case in "La Fiesta", Soprano Solo, Assisted by the Cansinos, Spanish Dancers, and the Metropolitan Opera Chorus 1926


It was produced at a cost of $789,963, the largest budget of any Warner Bros. film up to that point.

The soundtrack for the film was performed by the New York Philharmonic. George Groves, on assignment from The Vitaphone Corporation, was charged with recording the soundtrack to the film. He devised an innovative, multi-microphone technique and performed a live mix of the 107-string orchestra. In doing so he became the first music mixer in film history.


The film was a box-office success being Warners' biggest grossing film to date with earnings of $1,693,000[2] despite negative reviews from New York film critics.[7]

Opening night tickets cost $10 and it was the first film on Broadway to charge over $3 for a regular ticket with the top prices at $3.30 each night. In the five performances over the weekend, it grossed $13,787 with people literally fighting to get in and tickets changing hands for $5.[8]

The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:

Preservation status[edit]

A print of Don Juan, including its Vitaphone soundtrack, still survives and is preserved at the UCLA Film and Television Archive.[5][11]

Home media[edit]

In 2011, the film, along with the original Vitaphone sound shorts, was released on manufactured-on-demand DVD by the Warner Archive Collection.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Don Juan at the American Film Institute Catalog
  2. ^ a b Glancy, H Mark (1995). "Warner Bros Film Grosses, 1921–51: the William Schaefer ledger". Historical Journal of Film Radio and Television. 15. 
  3. ^ Stephens, E. J.; Wanamaker, Marc (2010). Early Warner Bros. Studios. Arcadia Publishing. p. 25. ISBN 0-738-58091-0. 
  4. ^ a b White Munden, Kenneth, ed. (1997). The American Film Institute Catalog of Motion Pictures Produced in the United States, Part 1. University of California Press. p. 195. ISBN 0-520-20969-9. 
  5. ^ a b "Silent Era : Progressive Silent Film List". 
  6. ^ "Vitaphone Bow is Hailed a Marvel". Variety. August 11, 1926. p. 10. Retrieved May 28, 2018. 
  7. ^ "$29,000 at Warner's Gives B'Way 'Special' Record to 'Don Juan'". Variety. August 18, 1926. p. 45. Retrieved May 28, 2018. 
  8. ^ "first $3 Picture Show on Broadway; 'Don Juan' and Vitaphone Coupled". Variety. August 11, 1926. p. 5. Retrieved May 28, 2018. 
  9. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Thrills Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-20. 
  10. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-18. 
  11. ^ The Library of Congress American Silent Feature Film Survival Catalog:Don Juan
  12. ^ Don Juan DVD release at

External links[edit]