Monday, January 4, 2016

Movie Review: The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923)

The Hunchback of Notre Dame 
Universal Pictures, USA, 1923. 
The Hunchback of Notre Dame title
This movie is part of Horror Classics 50 Movie Pack by Mill Creek Entertainment. 

Based on the novel "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" by Victor Hugo.

Notre Dame Cathedral is a sanctuary for the persecuted. The hunchback of Notre Dame, Quasimodo (Lon Chaney) lives there working as the bell ringer. King Louis XI (Tully Marshall) oppresses the people. The Festival of Fools is celebrated in the cathedral square. King of beggars Clopin (Ernest Torrence) is not the friend of Arch-deacon Dom Claude (Nigel De Brulier). Also Arch-deacon's brother Jehan (Brandon Hurst) scorns his brother.
Lon Chaney
Nigel De Brulier
Dom Claude
Brandon Hurst
Gypsy girl Esmeralda (Patsy Ruth Miller) is Clopin's foster daughter. Gudule (Gladys Brockwell) hates Esmeralda because the gypsies stole her baby (who would coincidentally be just the same age as Esmeralda, hmm?) In the festival Quasimodo is chosen as the King of the Fools. He sees Esmeralda dance and falls in love. 
Patsy Ruth Miller
Gladys Brockwell
Raymond Hatton
Sword-hero and ladies man Phoebus de Chateaupers (Norman Kerry) is made Captain of the Guard. Fleur de Lys (Winifred Bryson) is his fiancee. Also Phoebus falls in love with Esmeralda. Quasimodo is Jehan's slave so Jehan orders Quasimodo to kidnap Esmeralda but Phoebus and his guards save her. Jehan escapes and Quasimodo gets the blame. The beggars almost hang street poet Gringoire (Raymond Hatton) but Esmeralda stops them. Gringoire becomes Esmeralda's friend and messenger. Next day Quasimodo is whipped as punishment. Esmeralda pities him and brings him water.
Norman Kerry and Winifred Bryson
Phoebus and Fleur de Lys
Esmeralda shows sympathy towards Quasimodo
Ernest Torrence
Jehan makes a deal with Clopin to get Esmeralda in exchange for the treasures of the church. First Clopin must get rid of Phoebus. Quasimodo must save Esmeralda and protect the Cathedral from the angry mob.

Most of the film adaptations change the ending so that at least Esmeralda survives. Depending on the adaptation she ends up with either Gringoire or Phoebus. What makes the 1923 version slightly different than the other adaptations of the story is that the villain is not Dom Claude but his brother Jehan and Dom Claude is a saintly and benevolent priest. Possibly the change was made to keep the Church happy. Lon Chaney Sr. is brilliant with makeup effects that look great even today. The group scenes look spectacular with hundreds of extras. The film suffers slightly from too many characters and side plots crammed into relatively short movie leaving little room for Quasimodo as Clopin's revolution plans, love story of Esmeralda and Phoebus and plottings of Jehan take most of the time. Still it is probably the most iconic adaptation of Hugo's book.

The Mill Creek version runs 101 minutes. The print is at times very scratchy but still watchable. The soundtrack is quite fun with nice score and even sound effects are present.

Let's make this part of The 2016 Movie Watching Challenge. (Challenge #17. Movie based on classic story for example fairy tale, Shakespeare's play or literary classic)

Rating: Very good

Starring: Lon Chaney, Patsy Ruth Miller, Norman Kerry, Kate Lester, Winifred Bryson, Nigel De Brulier, Brandon Hurst, Ernest Torrence, Tully Marshall, Harry von Meter, Raymond Hatton, Nick De Ruiz, Eulalie Jensen, Roy Laidlaw, Ray Myers, William Parke Sr., Gladys Brockwell, John Cossar, Edwin Wallock
Director: Wallace Worsley

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for your interest! (All comments are moderated before publishing so please be patient!)

Recommendations by Engageya