The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923) Poster

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Medieval Menace
Ron Oliver1 July 2005
Deaf and half-blind, THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME, feared & rejected by the people of Paris, becomes the unlikely protector of a poor gypsy girl.

Lon Chaney, master of disguise, solidified his celebrity with his portrayal of Quasimodo, the deformed bell-ringer, who is forever cut off from any semblance of a normal life. Although his makeup is certainly horrific, Chaney's role is not really monstrous: he is a lonely human desperately misused by Fate. Chaney's face speaks for him, communicating the tormenting anguish of his soul. While not quite as poignant as Charles Laughton's interpretation 16 years later, Chaney still makes of the role a Silent hallmark which has stood the test of time.

There are fairly lengthy segments in which Chaney does not appear and plot elements not explored in the longer Laughton version. Here the story dwells on the gypsy dancer Esmeralda, played by Patsy Ruth Miller, and her burgeoning romance with the brave Phoebus, Captain of the Guard, played by Norman Kerry. Both performers do very well with their 'normal' roles -- her innocence contrasting well with his initial lust -- even though the viewer is doubtless anxious for the return of the Hunchback.

A handful of excellent character actors from the era add their assistance: gaunt Nigel de Brulier as the saintly Archdeacon, defender of the Hunchback; beefy Ernest Torrence as Clopin, King of Thieves, ruling over the Court of Miracles; prissy Raymond Hatton as the effete poet Gringoire; and feeble Tully Marshall as a suspicious Louis XI.

Special mention must be made of Universal's splendid attention to detail which they lavished on the film. Most especially commendable is the representation of Notre Dame's West Facade, the only real angle from which the Cathedral's exterior is depicted. To see Chaney clamber down, swinging from pinnacle to gargoyle to statue; or, to watch Quasimodo defend Esmeralda from the crowd of beggars he thinks has come to kill her, dropping stones, beams and molten metal on their heads below from the Cathedral's ramparts, is to enjoy two of Silent Cinema's great visual moments.
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Deserves To Be Called A Classic
sddavis6316 November 2002
A very good version of the classic story from the silent era of movie making. The highlight of the movie is clearly Lon Chaney's performance as Quasimodo, the hideously deformed resident of Notre Dame cathedral in Paris in the 15th century. One first has to offer kudos for the superb makeup. Chaney is completely unrecognizable in this role. Director Wallace Worsley does a good job of building up sympathy for the Hunchback throughout, and the image of Chaney gleefully swinging off the rope to ring Notre Dame's bells is one that will stay with anyone who has ever seen this film.

Although Quasimodo is the title character, much of the story actually revolves around Esmeralda, who is the object of the affection (some romantic, some fraternal) of almost every male character in the story. The role is played superbly by Patsy Ruth Miller, who possesses both a beauty and an innocence that fit the character perfectly.

Director Worsley also does a marvelous job of creating a dark and ominous feeling around the Paris of that era, as tension between the social classes rises. Ernest Torrence is especially convincing as Clopin, the "King of the Poor" in Paris, and foster-father to Esmeralda, who feels betrayed when Esmeralda falls in love with a member of the nobility (an "aristocrat" as Clopin contemptuously calls him.)

The movie suffered a little bit from what I found at times to be a less than appropriate musical score, and the quality of the film is not especially good (at least when I saw it) but that is hardly surprising given its age. Overall, though, this is a very interesting film that easily holds a viewers' attention.

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A Memorable Atmospheric Version With a Fine Performance By Chaney
Snow Leopard4 October 2004
This classic silent version of the often-filmed story of "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" features good atmosphere and one of Lon Chaney's many fine renderings of an unusual character. Between Chaney and the ponderous medieval settings, it really seems like a strange and unusual world. The rest of the cast helps out as well, and makes this version well worth seeing despite the many newer adaptations that have had the advantages of later technologies.

Chaney is ideal for this kind of role, since he not only creates an interesting and suitable look for the character, but also conceives of the right gestures and expressions to make the character come alive. On the silent screen, Chaney was able to portray characters like Quasimodo and the Phantom with a believability and humanity that few of today's actors can even approach, much less surpass, despite all of their advantages.

While Chaney is the main highlight, the rest of this production works well also. The portrayal of the Parisian underworld, the atmosphere in the great cathedral, and the portrayals of most of the main characters are also strengths. Among the supporting cast, Patsy Ann Miller as Esmerelda and Ernest Torrance as Clopin are particularly good. It fits together well, and creates a satisfying version of the classic story.
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For Whom the Bell Tolls
lugonian2 March 2004
THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME (Universal, 1923), directed by Wallace Worsley, takes an important step in cinema history. While Victor Hugo's classic novel, published in the 1830s, had been transferred to the screen on several occasions prior to this 1923 adaptation, one of mention titled THE DARLING OF Paris (Fox, 1917) featuring Theda Bara, this production ranks one of the first lavish spectacles Universal had produced thus far, as well as a truly challenging performance for Lon Chaney (1883-1930) in the role of the deformed bell-ringer named Quasimodo. Remade several times thereafter, with the most famous being the 1939 adaptation starring Charles Laughton and Maureen O'Hara for RKO Radio (interestingly not by Universal!), no two versions are exactly alike. In fact, the more recent adaptation transferred to the screen became the 1996 feature length animation musicalized version, but many of the remakes then and now do owe a lot to Chaney's artistic achievement of long ago.

Set in fifteenth century Paris, Quasimodo "deaf, half blind", is a deformed soul attending the gathering of the Festival of Fools. Among the celebrants are Esmeralda (Patsy Ruth Miller), a gypsy girl, "a child of mystery," who enters the city of Notre Dame and dances for the crowd, and Gringoire (Raymond Hatton), a poet-playwright attempting to act out his allegorical play with little success. The crowd encounters the hideous face of Quasimodo, and instantly acclaimed him as the King of the Fools. Normally regarded a monster, Quasimodo has his moment of glory becoming the center of attention before Dom Claude (Nigel De Brullier), the saintly priest, has him return with him to the cathedral. The evil Jehan (Brandon Hurst), has one thing in mind, his lust for the gypsy girl. He sends Quasimodo to abduct her, as witnessed by Phoebus (Norman Kerry), a captain of the guards ("men yielded to his sword, and women to his smile"), rescuing her from the hunchback. After Quasimodo's capture and punishment through flogging, it is Esmeralda, no longer fearing him, to grant him his request for water. Jehan continues his abduction plot on Esmeralda, but because of her love for Phoebus, makes her the accused and sentenced through execution for the stabbing of Phoebus, leading Quasimodo to repay the favor by coming to Esmeralda's aide.

The other members of the cast of thousands include: Ernest Torrence (Clopin, "King of the beggars, enemy of the king" and Esmeralda's "foster father"); Tully Marshall (King Louis XI, "whose dungeons are always full, whose executioners always kept busy"); Kate Lester (Mademoiselle de Gondelaurier); and Gladys Brockwell (Godule, the mysterious reclusive woman who feels gypsies "should all be cursed").

With Chaney's many early screen performances starting in 1914, along with hundreds of characters and thousands of faces, he actually didn't reach true star prominence until after achieving the kind of success long overdue him with THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME. In spite of his feature billing, grotesque makeup and sympathetic gestures, Chaney's participation in this production is actually a supporting one. Much has been written about Chaney's makeup, a misshapen face with an eye that droops almost out of its socket, mouth with jagged teeth and twisted legs, wavy hair, but it's his character behind that makeup who really brings out his sympathy and human dignity. Not essentially a horror film, but rather a love story of two misunderstood characters, the hunchback and the gypsy girl. Unlike Victor Hugo's novel, this screen version details very little about Quasimodo's background, yet, spends more time bringing out the true heritage of Esmeralda. This carefully constructed production captures the simplicity of 19th century Paris, from the authentic Notre Dame cathedral down to the costumes, making this one a true classic of the silent screen.

THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME and THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1925) remain two of Lon Chaney's most famous screen roles. During the early years of video cassette distributions, these two silent features, which have become public domain titles, were the easiest to obtain. Released through various distributors means alternate versions, ranging from bad video transfers with no musical scoring, to clear picture quality with various types of underscoring, ranging from organ to orchestral, with the majority with the average time frame from 97 to 123 minutes. Blackhawk Video's version contained a Lee Irwin orchestral score with flute sounds, ringing church bells and cathedral chanting. Republic Home Video, along Critic's Choice contained organ scores, color tints and new title cards for its opening introduction. The only debit with Republic's home video transfer is having the final scene as Quasimodo ringings the church bell of Notre Dame for the last time, abruptly ending in freeze frame as the priest (De Brulier) walks towards him, not showing what follows. The print with the abrupt conclusion was the one used in the 1971 presentation of the 13-week series of THE SILENT YEARS as hosted by Orson Welles on public television. At present, many other video and/ or DVD transfers, do feature the original opening title credits and the complete finish focusing on the bell as it slowly stops swinging back and forth before stopping with the THE END (or rather FIN) title card reaches the screen.

THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME occasionally appears on cable television's Turner Classic Movies as part of its weekly Silent Sunday Night presentations hosted by Robert Osborne. Due to a renewed interest into the life and career of Lon Chaney, "The Man of a Thousand Faces," this best known version to the Victor Hugo classic should be the one film to consider and study. (***)
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Beautiful…but I hope you have a wide attention span!
Coventry12 March 2004
This early version of the legendary story is (so far) the oldest film I've ever seen. Personally, I find it fascinating to purchase movies made before my grandparents were even born. The entire concept of cinema as a form of art is scarcely out of the egg it all still looks so grotesque. I did learn something from this film…these ancient milestones aren't necessarily brilliant but impressive beyond belief. The Hunchback of the Notre Dame often gets referred to as one of the first ‘horror' classics but much more than that, it's a historical spectacle with massive sets and groundbreaking elements. The actual plot is so easy to summarize but you get so much more than that! Like a very detailed and imaginative portrait of Paris in the 15th century, the variety of social classes and an idea of medieval interpretation of the law. At some times in this film, you almost get the idea Quasimodo and Esmeralda are just second-class puppets in what is primarily a historical and educating documentary. Magnificent without a single doubt…but time-consuming and ponderous to sit through…Although, I have to say I hunt down the extended version, furnished with a stained musical track and lasting 140 minutes.

The actual plot and the presentation of Quasimodo's personality is still unparalleled and touching beyond comparison. Lon Chaney is simply outstanding as the unworldly and deformed ‘freak' who's willing to sacrifice his life unconditionally to rescue the girl who once treated him in a human way. He might be hideous, but he's the only who's pure, honest and free of prejudices. Lon Chaney's facial make-up and hunch are early horror triumphs. Along with his natural charismatic appearance, the Quasimodo portrayal provided Chaney with the immortal status of horror-cinema icon. Even though he already starred in over a hundred films before The Hunchback, he'll always be remembered starting from this point of his career. Like none other actor, Chaney gave a face to Quasimodo and that is not exaggerated! Multiple other well-respected actors gave image to Quasimodo after Chaney (like Charles Laughton, Anthony Quinn and Anthony Hopkins) but only he will truly be remembered for it. Same goes for Lon's personification of Erik in `Phantom of the Opera' which is his greatest achievement in cinema along with Hunchback.

The Hunchback of the Notre Dame is over eighty (80!) years old now and it still stands as one of the most overwhelming heavyweights in cinema ever. Some of the sequences shown here are pure mythical inheritance. Like Chaney acrobatic movements while tolling the massive bells…or his descent off the Notre Dame's walls! Still, this film might not be for all tastes as it's too bombastic all together and Woresly's direction is kind of rough and ponderous. He surely put too much energy in it, as it was the most ambitious project of his career. Therefore, it's hard to stay focused continuously as the shots of Medieval Parisian streets seem to be endless
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While not one of my silent favorites, it's quite the spectacle
MartinHafer19 March 2007
It's hard to rate this film. Much of this is because the film has been floating around for years and is available in many forms--some longer and some significantly shorter. I have a videotape version that only runs about 90 minutes and it lacks any musical score. The version I just saw on TCM lasted almost two hours and had a very good musical score by Robert Israel. However, despite the excellent score he recently wrote for the film, the print itself was in pretty poor shape--looking like it needed further restoration. The review I am giving is for this longer version with music.

The film was exceptional from a technical standpoint. There were huge numbers of extras, very impressive sets that make you think it was really filmed in Paris and the acting was very good. Not surprisingly, Lon Chaney was exceptional and his makeup very convincing. However, despite the technical merit, I still found myself preferring his PHANTOM OF THE OPERA--it was a more interesting story and has been completely restored, so it is a visual treat--unlike HUNCHBACK. Also, the story itself never seemed super-compelling. A good chance I feel this way is that I have seen at least five different versions of the story and it just feels a bit old. So I really can't blame THIS film--it's more a case of "burnout". Still, it's an amazing film and not to be missed by silent movie fans.
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evocative Hugo adaptation
didi-516 March 2005
This superior silent movie (even when viewed in a substandard print as the one I saw) blossoms as one of the finest literary adaptations to appear on the screen.

Quasimodo, the repulsive deaf hunchback who rings the bells for Notre Dame Cathedral, is played by the multi-faceted Lon Chaney, and he puts the different aspects of the character across very well - fear, hatred, betrayal, longing, kindness. This is a misunderstood 'freak' who has much of the human spirit intact within him despite the betrayals of those who should protect him.

Patsy Ruth Miller is an effective Esmeralda, pretty and compelling whether in her gypsy dance or at the finale where she watches the battle between the turrets of the Cathedral and the square below as her people try to battle their way into Sanctuary.

Also of note are Nigel de Brulier as Claudio, Ernest Torrence as gypsy king and Esmeralda's foster father Clopin, Tully Marshall as a bored Louis XI, Norman Kerry as a posturing Phoebus, Brandon Hurst as a cunning Jehan, and Raymond Hatton as a twittery Gringoire.

There are nice touches in the staging, too - as Esmeralda and Phoebus lunch at an inn, a spider sucks a fly into her web; while the gypsy band at the steps of Notre Dame get showered with a rain of molten lead as Esmeralda hides in safety in the cathedral tower.

The version I saw used music and sound effects to accompany the pictures and titles, which was done very well. The film may seem a little long, and could spend more time on Chaney and less on Miss Miller, but it is a good piece of work.
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The good old story, surprisingly easy to follow.
Ariel-2827 August 2000
This is the first long silent film I have ever seen, and it was much easier to follow than I had expected. How nice it is that we still have the chance to watch the old silent films!

The acting was really superb. Quasimodo and Esmeralda looked again very similar to the characters of the Dieterle version, and it was quite incredible how Lon Chaney could so easily climb up and down on the Cathedral walls with his huge hump. I was also content with Sister Gudule having her own part in this film.

In fact I was quite amazed that it was Jehan, not dom Claude who had lust for Esmeralda. It's also strange that Captain Phoebus could change so much that he really cared for the girl. Once again, I pitied Quasimodo who died after seeing the girl of his dreams embracing another man.
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Lon as the great bell ringer
theowinthrop2 September 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Let us face it - the 1923 version of THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME is as good in it's way as the 1939 sound version with Charles Laughton and Maureen O'Hara. The only reason the Laughton version is better recalled now is that it is accessible to Americans born through or after 1927: when movies starting talking. Just like the 1956 version is accessible to people who speak French.

But given it is a silent movie, it is remarkably strong work. Chaney's Quasimodo is the most monstrous looking of the personifications of that character (Laughton's make-up is good too, but he somehow seems less frightening). The scene that everyone recalls from this version, of course, is the public whipping scene, when Quasimodo has been captured trying to "kidnap" Esmeralda (actually ordered to do that by Frollo) and is whipped. The gypsy takes pity on him and gives him water. It is the point that he starts falling for Esmeralda.

Aside from making Phoebus more conventionally heroic (to be with the gypsy at the end), this film gave a memorable death scene to Clopin, dying amidst his beggar army in front of the Cathedral (Ernest Torrence's Clopin gives the role the right degree of gravitas in the face of death). Also, the conclusion wraps up the confusion of the end for the hunchback. Unlike the 1939 ending, which has a sad Laughton bemoaning his perennial lonely state, and the 1956 version which follows the novel in mentioning that years after the execution the skeletons of two people, one deformed, were found in the crypts of the Cathedral, and crumbled into dust together, this one killed off the Hunchback. It was not a bad ending, but at variance with the other two films.
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A True Classic of the Silent Screen
bsmith555222 July 2001
"The Hunchback of Notre Dame" is the often filmed Victor Hugo classic tale of the tragic Quasimodo and his love for the lovely Esmeralda in 15th century Paris.

Lon Chaney in perhaps his greatest role, plays the title character to perfection. Even through the grotesque make up that he created for the character, he can still elicit the sympathy of the audience through his touching portrayal. Chaney is barely recognizable through the 40 pounds of make up and appliances that went to create Quasimodo for the screen. You have to remember that this was 1923 and Chaney did not have the benefit of today's make up techniques.

Patsy Ruth Miller brings youth, beauty and innocence to the role of Esmeralda, a perfect contrast to the hunchback. Norman Kerry plays Phoebus, the nominal hero of the tale who is Esmeralda's true love. Brandon Hurst is the chief villain, Jehan, who wants Esmeralda for himself. Ernest Torrence plays Clopin the "King of the Beggars". In the role of Gringoire is Raymond Hatton, who "B" western fans will remember as the comical sidekick in several westerns of the 30s and 40s.

However, this movie truly belongs to Lon Chaney. It is truly a pity that he died before he could manifest his genius in sound films. (He died in 1930 and made just one sound film).

After almost 80 years, Lon Chaney's "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" remains the definitive version and a true classic of American cinema.
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Lon Chaney: Truly "The Man of a Thousand Faces"
jluis198427 March 2007
"Notre-Dame De Paris", known in English as "The Hunchback of Notre Dame", is definitely one of the most popular French novels of all time. Written by Victor Hugo, this Gothic tragedy explores many of his favorite themes, including social injustices and romantic idealism. However, the element that is nowadays the most famous trait of the novel, is without a doubt the character of Quasimodo, and the mistreatment he suffers due to his horrible deformities. While Hugo didn't intend this to be the main theme of the novel, the enormous appealing of Quasimodo quickly turned him into the iconic representation of good nature under a monstrous face, and so it is not a surprise that this is also the angle taken by the film adaptations of the novel. In this the first movie version of the immortal novel, the classic role of Quasimodo is performed in film for the first time by another legend, "The Man of a Thousand Faces", Lon Chaney Sr.

Set in the 15th Century, the movie starts as just another day in the simple life of Quasimodo (Lon Chaney), the bell-ringer of the famous Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris who has spend most of his life inside the Cathedral because most people fear his gruesome deformity. Under the care of archdeacon Claude Frollo (Nigel De Brulier), Quasimodo has lived a good, albeit lonely life; however, this is about to change when the archdeacon's brother Jehad (Brandon Hurst), orders Quasimodo to help him to kidnap a young gypsy girl named Esmeralda (Patsy Ruth Miller) that he wants for himself. Jehad's plan fails as Phoebus (Norman Kerry), Captain of the Guards, rescues Esmeralda and takes Quasimodo to prison, however, this will be only the beginning of the tragedy that will unfold under the shadow of the Cathedral of Notre Dame.

Adapted by Edward T. Lowe Jr. and Perley Poore Sheehan, the story is really a good adaptation that remains true to the novel's themes of human tragedy despite the fact that the story was significantly simplified. While the focus is certainly on Quasimodo (and he is indeed made a more prominent and sympathetic figure), the screenplay remains an epic tragedy about life and death in Paris, and takes its time to introduce and develop every character, surprisingly including many of the novel's subplots that became forgotten in subsequent versions of the story. The story unfolds nicely and with a good pace, slowly introducing us to the universe of this characters and carefully setting the basis for the climatic finale of the tragedy. Interestingly, despite the changes done to the story, the movie keeps the dark depressing tone of Hugo's Gothic classic.

Wallace Worsley may not be a director known for his personal style (the fact that most of his work is lost doesn't help), but he takes on this monumental project with courage and makes this epic tale work nicely. While Worsley was not the first choice to direct the movie, he already had directed Chaney in four movies before this one (including the classic "The Penalty"), so being already familiar with Chaney's method of work, Worsley could let him do his thing while he focused on the difficult organization of the complex project. With a cast of thousands and enormous sets, Worsley makes 15th Century Paris to come alive once again and, just like Victor Hugo would wanted, the Cathedral of Notre Dame is made another character of the story thanks to the beautiful cinematography that gives an ominous atmosphere to the building.

Lon Chaney is without a doubt the star and highlight of the movie, delivering one of the best performances as Quasimodo (second only to Charles Laughton), and creating one of his most amazing works of make-up. Proving why he is called "The Man of a Thousand Faces", Chaney makes a gruesome, yet very expressive "monster" that truly conveys the nature of the almost silent character. Patsy Ruth Miller is very effective as Esmeralda, and nicely avoids exaggerated gestures in her dramatic scenes; something that sadly can't be said about Norman Kerry as Phoebus, although being fair, his character is not as developed as the rest. Brandon Hurst is simply amazing, and sometimes even manages to overshadow the enormous Chaney, with a remarkably wicked portrayal of evil in his performance as Jehad. Truly another of the film's highlights.

"The Hunchback of Notre Dame" was Universal's most successful film of 1923, and honestly, it's not hard to tell why. Not only Lon Chaney's magnificent performance as Chaney (as well as his outstanding work of make-up) is a true highlight of the film, the lavish sets built for the movie are definitely one of the most amazing works done in silent films, with the reconstruction of Notre Dame's Western facade being extremely detailed and actually very accurate. One would think that given the attention payed to the technical aspects of the film, the performances of the actors were unimportant, but thankfully this is not the case, as Chaney and company proved to be up to the challenge in this movie. As a side note, among the many assistant directors who helped Worsley in this project, there was a young man named William Wyler receiving his first work in the movie industry.

Depsite its flaws, this first version of "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" remains as one of the best movies of the silent era, and one of the best versions of Victor Hugo's classic. It's probably a bit dated by now, but it still retains the beauty and monumental power of its initial release. Inaugurating the horror genre for Universal Films, this epic tragedy proudly ranks as a classic of the genre and of cinema in general. 8/10
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A potential epic cruelly deformed by censorship and Chaney's ape-man
DrMMGilchrist4 November 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Visually, Wallace Worsley's adaptation of 'Notre Dame de Paris' is stunning: the lavish sets are atmospheric; the costumes, while not always historically accurate, are attractive; and the film is lively and well-shot, with (on the whole) an excellent cast. It could have been a superb early Hollywood epic. Unfortunately, the script was maimed by censorship, which set the tone for subsequent US attempts to film Hugo's spectacular novel of 15C Paris. *Some spoilers follow, as I wish to compare the book and the film.*

The title itself reflects part of the problem. Despite Victor Hugo's disapproval, since 1832, many popular English-language translations of 'Notre Dame de Paris' have appeared under the 'Hunchback' title, promoting the supporting character of Quasimodo to the leading role. The NAMPI 'Thirteen Points', which prefigured the Hays Code, further fuelled this change of narrative focus. They prohibited the depiction of the clergy in ways that might provoke hostility or loss of respect: a huge obstacle in adapting this novel, which centres upon Claude Frollo, a brilliant young priest who destroys himself and all he loves because he can no longer cope with his vow of celibacy. Other characters were also problematic for the censors: Esméralda's long-lost mother is a penitent former prostitute; the teenaged student Jehan is a drunkard and frequenter of brothels; Phœbus is a rake who takes Esméralda to a sleazy 'house of assignation' and almost succeeds in seducing her – indeed, she plasters herself over him more or less begging him to take her! How could the book be sanitised for filming under NAMPI rules?

The script retains Claude Frollo's identity as Archdeacon, but makes him remain the sweet, saintly adoptive father of the deformed foundling Quasimodo. It transfers his passion for Esméralda and his alchemy to his secular brother, Jehan – a spoilt and dissolute undergraduate in the book, but here a middle-aged villain, in league with the king of the underworld, Clopin. Without the psychological conflict over religious vows, the 'thwarted desire' plot loses meaning and intensity. It becomes just another story in which a man ruthlessly pursues a girl who loves someone else. It also wastes the talents of the British actor Nigel de Brulier, whose ascetically handsome features make him one of the best film-Claudes in looks. He could have played Hugo's Claude magnificently, judging by his performance as the prophet Jokanaan, tormented by another provocative teenaged dancer in Alla Nazimova's film of Oscar Wilde's 'Salomé'. Instead, all he has to do is look pious in a cassock. Film-Jehan (Brandon Hurst) is merely a moustache-twirling melodrama villain, or would be, if he had a moustache!

The moustache, however, in one of Hugo's more egregious anachronisms, belongs to Phœbus de Châteaupers (Norman Kerry), whom the script cleans up to be a conventional romantic lead (a decision copied by Disney in 1996). Yes, he tries to seduce Esméralda (the delightful Patsy Ruth Miller – young, carefree and charming), but here she resists, and he is won over by her virtue. The film also invents a Cinderella-type scene where she goes to a ball, dressed up as a lady, and captures his heart from his aristocratic fiancée Fleur-de-Lys. And of course, despite the various trials and tribulations, they will be rewarded with a happy ending. Pierre Gringoire's role is minimised to that of occasional comic relief: a pity, as he is great fun when he is on screen. Pâquette/Sister Gudule, Esméralda's mother, makes her only Hollywood appearance in this adaptation, in sanitised form, played by Gladys Brockwell. In flashback, we see her as a wealthy lady (presumably a widow) in a grand house, not as the impoverished young prostitute of the novel. Her death is placed earlier than in the novel and in somewhat different circumstances. The script bungles the drama of the belated recognition and reconciliation between mother and daughter: here, Pâquette recognises her child, then dies – but Esméralda apparently remains none the wiser. Poignant though this is, it seems an odd anti-climax: did this plot-element seem too melodramatic even for 1920s audiences?

These days, the reputation of the film rests chiefly on being a star-vehicle for Lon Chaney as Quasimodo – much overrated, I thought. His make-up was certainly elaborate by the standards of the time – indeed, too extravagant to be convincing. Quasimodo is a twenty-year-old boy with severe disabilities: he is not a human-ape hybrid, which is what Chaney (wearing an alarming amount of false body-hair during the flogging scene) appears to be playing. In a cinematic reversal of evolution, he is more like an ancestor of King Kong: just swap the Gothic towers of Notre Dame for the Art Deco lines of the Empire State Building. The ending, too, prefigures that of the great ape film: the heroic 'monster' is killed off so that the physically attractive young lovers can be reconciled. It's certainly not Victor Hugo! Indeed, having Quasimodo expire in the arms of his adoptive father, Claude, so far overturns the tragic climax of the novel that it belongs in an entirely alternative universe.

Without the distortions of narrative and character imposed by censorship, the talents assembled here could have made a wonderful film. Sadly, the NAMPI restrictions left it picturesque but stunted and deformed – much like Quasimodo himself.
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The Story of Class Warfare Gets Lost Amidst Romantic Entanglements and Period Grandeur
Bonehead-XL23 November 2013
Warning: Spoilers
When I marathon the Universal Monster movies, this one usually ends up left out. If I was smart, I would say that "Hunchback of Notre Dame" isn't a horror film, instead a period melodrama. While Quasimodo is frequently featured next to Frankenstein and Dracula, the film is low on horror content. The truth is I remember disliking the movie and felt no reason to revisit it. Leaving "Hunchback" out all-together isn't fair though. After all, "Dracula" and "Frankenstein" wouldn't have happened without it.

The movie is beholden to the conventions of Hugo and Laemmle. Despite getting title billing, the hunchback isn't featured in large portions of the film. The gypsy Esmeralda's love affair with the captain of the guard Phoebus takes up half the run-time. Hugo's themes of social unrest take stage in this subplot. Esmeralda's adopted father, Clopin, king of the gypsies, plots revolution against the apathetic king. His daughter falling in love with a noble doesn't sit well with the guy. The themes of the haves versus the have-nots are never more apparent then in the scene where Clopin and his thieves storm Phoebus' party. The poor stand on one side of the ballroom, clothed in rags, the rich on the other, in elegant gowns. Even Quasimodo is a gear in the machine of social hierarchy. The film's villain controls the hunchback. When the gypsy girl flares Frollo's lust, he forces Quasimodo to kidnap her. Caught by the guards, the deformed servant suffers for his master's crimes. The hunchback turning against his boss is indicative of the story's overall themes of revolt.

Potentially interesting themes are undermined by the commitment to melodrama. Differing from the novel, Esmeralda is saved from the gallows. Following the novel, she is actually royalty, the daughter of a rich woman, kidnapped as an infant by gypsies, her birth mother driven mad by the lost. This information is delivered flatly by a very knowledgeable, exposition-prone bit player. Esmarelda's true identity as a princess doesn't affect the plot much. Frollo's villainous machinations and Quasimodo's rebellion are motivated by their passion for the girl. This would probably be fine if the character had more depth. Patsy Ruth Miller looks elegant but the character is pushed around by the whims of the plot. Phoebus, a cynical womanizer in the novel, is transformed into a bland romantic hero, practically obsessed with the girl. The story of class warfare gets lost amidst the romantic entanglements and period grandeur. Hugo's criticism of the Catholic Church is excised totally, Archdeacon Claude Frollo becoming a kind man of the cloth. The role of villain is shifted to his brother, Jehan. Despite this, Brandon Hurst's performance is a highlight, sneering and glaring from under his cap. Even Hurst gets a romantic moment, confessing his love to the girl in her dungeon prison.

Even if he isn't the main character, Quasimodo is the most interesting character. Lon Chaney's performance is legendary. Performing under extensive make-up and a fifteen-pound silicon hump, he conveys pathos with only his body language. The moment when Esmarelda comes to the hunchback's aid as he suffers on the pillory is touching strictly because of Chaney, gratitude clearly visible on his face. Chaney vends the hunchback's love with longing looks, selling the romance better then the script can. Quasi's last act before he dies is to ring the bells, celebrating Phoebus and Esmarelda's love, another memorable moment. Chaney overacts at times, sticking his tongue out and grasping his hands. Still, his performance is probably the best thing about the film. Especially since Quasimodo's evolution to anti-hero is a bit rough. Dropping wooden pillars and boiling lead on innocent, rioting gypsies doesn't exactly endear him to the audience.

"Hunchback of Notre Dame" isn't a horror film but is still visually spectacular. The sets of Notre Dame are beautiful and moody, Gothic arches echoing through the entire church. The Court of Miracles is another fantastic set, teeming with life in cramped, rocky locations. People in ghoulish skeletons costumes dance out from under dark bridges. Deep shadows seal the eerie atmosphere. An extended visit to a torture chamber is another effective, horrific scene. Ultimately, these elements sell me on the movie, not the overwritten, routine story. I probably prefer Disney's version and the Charles Laughton take appears to be the most critically acclaimed but 1923's "Hunchback" endures for a reason.
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Chaney saves poor production
mhesselius28 July 2010
I saw the Hunchback the other day, and when Lon Chaney is on screen, which isn't nearly enough, you can see why he is considered by some to be the greatest actor of silent film. As the grotesque bell-ringer Quasimodo, Chaney's pantomime shows the complexity of a man with a beautiful soul imprisoned within a contorted form, fated to hate the world that sees him as a freak. Chaney's make-up is as usual superb. The rest of the cast doesn't fare as well.

Second best is Patsy Ruth Miller. Pretty and petite, her performance is natural and understated, but she's the girl-next-door, and doesn't possess the sex appeal required of the role of the dancing-girl Esmaralda. Ernest Torrence as Clopin, and Raymond Hatton as Graingoire are adequate. The other featured players are awful. Norman Kerry as Phoebus, and Brandon Hurst as the villain Jehan are stock characters out of melodrama, types that give silent film an undeserved reputation for always being florid and stagy. Blame director Wallace Worsley and the writers for not demanding the same complexity of other characters as Chaney brings to the Hunchback. The results are often unintentionally humorous, as when Hurst strides into a scene with his cloak thrown over his face, and when Kerry rakishly bares Esmaralda's shoulder, but repents and, with a pained look of remorse, covers it up again.

Set design is impressive and real—no CGI. Notre Dame Cathedral is an actual prop with gargoyles and statues that Chaney climbs on. But the sets are unimaginatively used by Worsley. There are no perceptible lighting effects. Exterior daylight scenes weren't shot in the studio, but always outside in bright sunlight and were sepia-tinted. Blue-tinted exterior night scenes were actually shot at night (unusual for the time) as the vapor on the actors' breath shows.

Anyone acquainted with the novel will also realize that this adaptation is sub-par. For instance, how does Esmaralda's mother know gypsies stole her child? There were no witnesses. In the novel gypsies leave the hunchback in her place. Why is the Hunchback the slave of Jehan? We have no background information to explain their relationship. And what's Gringoire's purpose other than as a messenger from Esmeralda to Phoebus? In the film Phoebus is a conventional romantic hero, not the selfish, lascivious rogue as in the book. Chaney achieves pathos with his character, but audiences in 1923 could never stomach the novel's grand tragic ending in which Esmaralda dies. Also, fear of offending the church caused Universal to make the villain not a priest but the saintly priest's brother, who in the novel is an amiable chap.

Some may be interested in this as an early horror film. But although there are elements of horror in the original story, Worsley's uninspired direction leave those avenues unexplored. The dark, Gothic atmosphere of the story would have to wait for German émigré director William Deiterle and cinematographer Joe August, who created a shadowy nightscape for the 1939 film. Nevertheless, it is nice to see a new print of this film which, although still scratchy, reveals much more detail, and moves at the correct projection speed, giving us a better idea of how the film originally looked.
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starring a true horror legend
Thomas-5812 October 2000
Ah, "The Hunchback of Notre Dame". The classic starring horror-legend, and famed "man-of-a-thousand-faces", Lon Chaney. After watching this film now, almost eighty years after its premiere, I wonder why there are no active, present-day horror icons like Lon Chaney has become. Maybe the answer lies in the fact that horror films of this type just are not made anymore. Quick, name a horror character in modern-day film that transcends film itself and is now part of the culture. Aside from the decade old, and increasingly light-weight and irrlevent, Freddy Kreuger, and perhaps Hannibal Lecter (though one can argue his character should not be compared to more conventional horror types like the ones Chaney played), there are none. Or the answer may lie in the fact that never again will there be a performer of the likes of Chaney. His ability to convey emotion through painstakingly applied pounds of make-up set the precedent for Boris Karloff's performances as Frankenstein's monster, and his son, Lon Chaney Jr., both legends in their own rights. And what a make-up it is. Basically operating with only a right eye, a crooked mouth, and flailing arms, his character, Quasimodo, is still an endearing yet tragic hero. His grotesque appearance is made even more appalling due to Chaney's mannerisms, such as his disjointed stride and flickering tongue. Yet, at the same time, the reason the viewer has pathos for the character is because of Chaney's body movements and contortions. Whether it be his rightfully-so mocking of the Parisian townspeople in the beginning of the movie or his reactions to his failing attempts at halting the charge on the cathedral at the end, Chaney is masterful at maximizing the neccessary theatrics that would be obscured under the make-up by any other actor. One of the most touching moments in the film occurs midway, when Quasimodo is whipped as punishment for his master's actions. "I thirst" the intercut caption reads. And just the way Quasimodo appears in that situation, helpless and pathetic, the viewer can almost hear Chaney cry out those words and wants to care for him. Then, he is no longer a "freak of nature" but a misfortunate human who is the only one pure of heart. Like so many "horror" films after it would again emphasize, he is not the "monster", the "normal" people are. This message is timeless. As such, the story, movie, and character are still relevant today - just a few years ago, Disney remade it into one of their feature length animation spectacles. Eighty years from now, heck, even thirty years from now, will the same be true for 90's horror? Will Anthony Hopkins become a deity among horror-movie buffs like Chaney has? This example alone justifies "Hunchback"'s classic status. Final Grade: A
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Well, for it's time, it was great.
benoitlelievre25 April 2005
I'm the first guy to say it, American cinema contains a truck load of bullsh*t. I'm also the first to admit that American cinema grow some of the most creative and influential directors of it's international history. This version of the Hunchback of Notre Dame, for a "first times" cinema movie, was awesome.

I first bought this movie in the Vintage Entertainment Promo, who offered 3 classics on one DVD for seven bucks. I bought this one because it has Cabinet Of Dr.Caligari on it and with two films in bonus it was four bucks less than the Caligari DVD alone (marketing laws are a mystery for me).

This Wallace Worsley movie was one of the first ones to fully benefit the wonders of editing in USA. Worlsey shows hyper enthusiast camera work, fast paced editing and some perspectivism in his point of views that left me wanting more, even if the movie is 133 minutes, which is incredibly long for a movie of this date. The last sequence is a bit pompous, but hey, that's how Americans are doing cinema, with this noisy and flashy approach.

The acting was also dythirambical by Lon Chaney who played Quasimodo, who even without words was in my humble opinion way more convincing than some modern ones. Chaney overplays , yes, but he overplays as a freak who takes sadness heavier than the others and who joy makes happier than the others. He fully understood the essence of Quasimodo.

Esmeralada, as Patsy Ruth Miller look that generic actress from every damned first time movies, but makes it even more interesting with that tenderness/repulsion relation she has with quasimodo.

My "first times" cinema culture is very very thin (Approximatively 15 films), but i'm glad that i've seen this one and would recommend it to Griffith fans and to people who wants to know more about the origins of American cinema Very well done!
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An absolute must-see!
JohnHowardReid11 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Wallace Worsley is not a director who usually figures in any lists of Hollywood masters. In fact, Chaney himself (with whom Worsley worked on no less than five pictures-this is the last of them) once described Worsley as little more than "good as any of the second-raters or better." Well Hunchback is certainly better. A whole lot better! A staggeringly spectacular production, its huge crowds and sets are most artistically angled and photographed. If Wallace Worsley was responsible for these consistently pleasing arrangements of light and color, he is indeed a neglected master. Ironically, it was due to the fact that he had worked successfully with Chaney at other studios that Worsley was hired in the first place, whereas Chaney's own preference was for Frank Borzage. Although Hunchback was a rousing success, Worsley was not offered any more work at Universal. In fact, the studio's publicity department regarded Worsley as such a has-been, they didn't even bother to spell his name correctly on the elaborately colorful posters prepared for the film's general release. (They managed to get Lon Chaney's name right though). In 1924, Worsley followed his Hunchback by directing a minor William Farnum/Lois Wilson vehicle, The Man Who Fights Alone, for Paramount. After that little stint, Paramount's publicity manager, B.P. Schulberg-who had Clara Bow under personal contract, plus his own personal production company(!)-releasing through Paramount of course-hired Worsley for The Shadow of the Law, a no-frills quickie that had only two claims to fame: It starred Miss Bow and was photographed by Ray June. And then came Worsley's final movie, appropriately titled The Power of Silence (1928), an out-of-date Belle Bennett silent from Tiffany-Stahl of Poverty Row. In addition to his creative visual artistry, Wallace Worsley was also adept at drawing fine performances from his players. Chaney is most effective, Miss Miller utterly charming; while Ernest Torrence, Raymond Hatton and Brandon Hurst almost steal the movie. Tully Marshall would certainly figure on this list too if his role were larger. The only weak spots are Nigel de Brulier, who is mostly quite credible but inclined to overdo the dramatics at times, and Norman Kerry who yet makes his hero considerably less abysmal here than his later effort in Phantom of the Opera. However it is not the actors, or even Mr Chaney, who constantly engage our attention. It is the overwhelming sets, filled with merry-making and murderous crowds-the whole medieval milieu in fact that Wallace Worsley brings so forcefully and dramatically to life. AVAILABLE on DVD through Image in a beautifully tinted 117-minute print, well-worn in places but always admirably sharp.
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The best version I don't know but certainly a great movie Warning: Spoilers
Well for those that only have seen the Disney version I would suggest to watch a non-animated version that stays more truthful to the real story with its tragic ending instead of the happy one in the animation. This might not be the best or most truthful portrayal of the story as I have not read the novel and I have only seen one other version (other than the Disney version) of the movie but can't remember which and don't remember much of it. That said I don't think I need to see another version as I thought this version was fantastic and gripping with wonderful performances from the cast. They call Lon Chaney with good reason the man with a 1000 faces and every movie he plays in seems an instant success. Of course he played the title role. The role of a handicapped or deformed he could play as the best and as always his make-up is splendid as he is unrecognizable. It almost looks like he is a real deformed. It's great how he swings through ropes and crawls like a monkey over the walls of the mighty cathedral. The whole movie is grotesque with the end fight as climax. The story however focuses even more on Esmeralda the gypsy dancer played by the beautiful Patsy Ruth Miller and adopted daughter of Clopin (Ernest Torrence), the king of the beggars. Beautiful and touching are her interactions with Quasimodo and with captain of the royal guard Phoebus de Chateaupers played by Norman Kerry. The story couldn't be any better I think except maybe how they handled the death of Esmeralda's mother, otherwise a movie that is hard to be critical of.
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Well made and moving, not my favourite version but recommended
TheLittleSongbird1 July 2012
If I were to say what my favourite versions were, they are the 1939 film with Charles Laughton and the 1996 Disney version. Neither are the most faithful to the book but I found myself to be the most engaged and most moved by them. This 1923 film is very good though. I did think some of the more secondary roles were rather stock here, especially Phoebus and Jehan, but still found the actors adequate. For its time and even now the film is very well made with beautiful(if not quite as Gothic of 1939) cinematography and make-up. The music score is also very good, atmospheric and often haunting, and the story is compelling too. I did find the ending to be of an anti-climax somewhat though, it is much more moving and convincing dramatically in the book and in other versions. The performances are very good on the whole, with Lon Chaney stealing the show as a grotesque and poignant Quasimodo, and Patsy Ann Miller as a beautiful and understated(if perhaps not quite sexy enough) Esmeralda and Ernest Torrance as Clopin faring best in support. All in all, recommended for especially how it was made and for Chaney. 8/10 Bethany Cox
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Lon Chaney Rings the Bell for Universal Pictures
wes-connors24 October 2010
Victor Hugo's classic "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" receives a grand send-up from Universal Pictures, and superstar Lon Chaney (as Quasimodo). As you might expect, the story is significantly altered from the original. Sex, politics, and religion were then, as well as now, subjects to be treated delicately. The world at large is still waiting for a production that will leave the corpses of Quasimodo and Esmeralda rotting blissfully in Notre Dame. The studio spent a lot of money on this production, and it shows.

For decades, Universal literature claimed this film made Mr. Chaney a superstar. Their pride is understandable, but Chaney had already achieved that position. He was a hot property throughout the 1920s. Chaney was responsible for pulling viewers into the cinema for several high-level productions; before his "Hunchback" even reared its ugly head, he was sitting comfortably with Douglas Fairbanks and Rudolph Valentino inside the annual "Quigley Poll" of "Box Office Stars" (at #9 for the year 1922).

Universal added some of the best supporting actors in Hollywood, beautiful Patsy Ruth Miller (as Esmeralda), director Wallace Worsley of Chaney's "The Penalty" (1920) to the mix, and spent a fortune on the sets. The result was a crow-pleasing epic. Though retaining its grandeur, this version of "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" really does not approach the overall artistic quality of production you can see in other silent films of the era, however. It's enjoyable for those who appreciate the genre, but this "Hunchback" can be seen more as a documentation of lavish setting, and for Chaney's towering titular performance.

******** The Hunchback of Notre Dame (9/2/23) Wallace Worsley ~ Lon Chaney, Patsy Ruth Miller, Norman Kerry, Ernest Torrance
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Not a horror piece, but very good.
pitsburghfuzz7 July 2010
Prior to Lon Chaney's masterwork in "The Phantom of the Opera", Mr. Chaney used his genius in the field of make-up in this lavish production. The characters were pretty funny at times(especially Norman Kerry, he looked like Cpt. Hook). Patsy Ruth Miller did a good job with the Esmeralda character, and had a lot of beauty and charm. Chaney also delivers an excellent performance as the deformed Quasimodo. He gave the character a lot of passion and emotion, but he also showed great genius in the make-up field. Lon was also game with going through with inconveniences in this role. The best example is when Chaney is getting whipped, he is wearing what some say is a twenty pound hump! Some reports claim that may have been seventy, but lets not get too excited. In any case, not as grand as "Phantom" in my opinion, and not only not as scary, Chaney gives a sympathetic performance as Quasimodo in this 1923 "super-jewel".
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David Jeffers for
rdjeffers8 January 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Monday January 5, 7:00pm, Paramount Theater, Seattle

"He looked like a giant broken to pieces and badly cemented together." - Victor Hugo

The power of the "prestige" film and the art of the deal are a lasting legacy of Lon Chaney's monumental Universal Pictures blockbuster, The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923). Pushed to production by emerging "Boy Wonder," Irving Thalberg, the ceaseless willpower of its star, who shrewdly optioned the rights to Victor Hugo's epic novel, The Hunchback of Notre Dame became a lasting milestone of silent era Hollywood and transformed Chaney from a brilliant character actor into a superstar.

The grotesque and lonely Quasimodo (Chaney), cathedral bell-ringer of medieval Paris, rescues Esmeralda (Patsy Ruth Miller), a beautiful gypsy girl, from public execution for a crime she did not commit. Naturally, Hollywood required that Hugo's hauntingly romantic but sad ending be replaced with something suitably upbeat. Still, the sheer scale of the film is overwhelming and Chaney's performance is unequaled in a role that became the template for every subsequent film version.
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Good but quite light-headed if not light-hearted
Dr_Coulardeau31 December 2008
Warning: Spoilers
It is an old silent black and white film from 1923. It has of course been enhanced for this edition that does not guarantee it is what it was. The image is amazingly clear and amazingly well centered and framed. Amazingly for 1923. The story is mythical and has been for nearly two centuries now. This version insists a lot more on the melodramatic than on the tragic. It centers too often on the spectacular and not on the deeply sentimental, sensual and psychological. It turns Quasimodo into a freak and nothing else and we miss the complex network of antagonistic loves running around Esmeralda. What's more it treats the king the way Victor Hugo, a Republican at heart, would never have done because it was perfectly unfair. What's more I would not swear whether the king lived in the Bastille castle or not, but across from the cathedral the famous Châtelet was already built, in sections at least, and it was a royal residence. To present the king Louis XI as a tyrant is totally anti-historical, which Victor Hugo was not. In the fifteen century we could say this king was cruel or violent, but he was also just and fair, hence he was only cruel and brutal with those who were considered as guilty in his days, though at times the crimes of these old centuries were absolutely exaggerated. But what the film is very good at expressing is the positive feelings, like love and attraction, plus fear, but not terror or even menace. This American director was also fascinated by crowd movements. It is surprising how far away from his European counterparts he was. The Germans were producing horror films upon horror films, absolutely bleak science-fiction. The Russians were producing masterpieces with Eisenstein but all concentrating on the Soviet revolution and Russian history. Some scene have become mythical too like the pram and the baby going down the stairs in "Potemkin". The French were more in sentimental and sentimentalese productions and some realistic left-minded and even openly communist-minded documentaries. On the other side of the Atlantic the great productions where comic films with Laurel and Hardy, Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin (who was British by the way) and a few others. This film then is different because it introduces pathos and pathetic situations but with a heavy ideological and anti-historical content.

Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University Paris Dauphine, University Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne & University Versailles Saint Quentin en Yvelines
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Charmolu's assistant (as W. Ray Meyers) Was my Grand Father
Sensorone28 August 2007
My mother, Rays daughter, used to tell us stories about him all the time. She passed away August 6th 2000 but her and Rays memory live on with his grandchildren, Great-grandchildren and yes even his Great-Great grandchildren. He was in quite a lot of Silent movies and even wrote and directed a few. The most interesting thing to me is that he invited his Brother-in-Law, Joseph August (Perform a search at this site for his background) out West to ride horses for $1.00 per day. Joseph got involved in the movie industry as well and became a cinematographer. Joe later went on to film "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" in 1939 with Charles Laughton and was the Cinematographer for the WW2 Classic "They Were Expendable". Joes son Joeseph August Jr. was also involved with the Film industry and like his father, was involved in the Cinematography portions. He was involved in the filming of the classic movie "West World" with Yul Brenner and later filming of the TV Series "The Fugitive", which was partially filmed in my hometown of Oxnard,California.
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Classic silent film
preppy-326 March 2007
Quasimodo (Lon Chaney) is the hideously deformed bell ringer for Notre Dame. Esmeralda (Patsy Ruth Miller) is a beautiful dancing gypsy. She loves high and mighty Phoebus (Norman Kerry) but is loved by evil, scheming Jehan (Brandon Hurst). All this comes to a head at the end with a revolution.

This is not a horror film as many believe. It's a strong, exciting and epic drama. This was a huge production for Universal pictures--the sets themselves covered acres and acres of land. Notre Dame itself is especially impressive. They also got Chaney and Kerry who were both big stars at the time and a supporting cast of hundreds (that's no exaggeration).

The movie itself is just great--all the money and effort that went into it pays off. It moves at a brisk pace and the numerous subplots always keep you interested. All the acting is good with top honors going to Hurst, Miller and Kerry. Best of all is Chaney--he's just superb. His acting beneath all that makeup is nothing short of miraculous. In some ways this is almost better than "Phantom of the Opera" (which is considered his best movie). I still like "Phantom" more but this one is great on its own. A must-see.

I saw the uncut 2 hour version on TCM. It's not in the best of shape but is still OK.
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