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The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Theatrical poster
Directed by Wallace Worsley
Produced by Carl Laemmle
Irving Thalberg
Written by Novel:
Victor Hugo
Screenplay:
Edward T. Lowe, Jr.
Perley Poore Sheehan
Starring Lon Chaney, Sr.
Patsy Ruth Miller
Norman Kerry
Nigel de Brulier
Brandon Hurst
Music by Cecil Copping
Carl Edouarde
Hugo Riesenfeld
Heinz Eric Roemheld
Cinematography Robert Newhard
Tony Kornman
Virgil Miller
Stephen S. Norton
Charles J. Stumar
Editing by Edward Curtiss
Maurice Pivar
Sydney Singerman
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date(s) September 2, 1923
Running time 100 min
Country United States
Language Silent film
English intertitles
Budget $1,250,000 (estimated)

The Hunchback of Notre Dame is a 1923 American film starring Lon Chaney as Quasimodo and Patsy Ruth Miller as Esmeralda, and is directed by Wallace Worsley. The film is the most famous adaptation of Victor Hugo's novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame, aside from the 1996 Disney Adaptation. The film was Universal's "Super Jewel" of 1923 and was their most successful silent film, grossing over $3 million.

The film is most notable for the grand sets that recall 15th century Paris as well as Lon Chaney's performance and spectacular make-up as the tortured bell-ringer of Notre Dame. The film elevated Chaney, already a well-known character actor, to full star status in Hollywood. It also helped set a standard for many later horror films, including Chaney's The Phantom of the Opera in 1925. Today, the film is in the public domain.

Contents

Synopsis

The story is set in Paris ten years before Columbus discovered America.

Quasimodo is a deformed bell-ringer of the famous Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. Jehan, the evil brother of Dom Claude, the good and saintly archdeacon of Notre Dame, prevails upon him to kidnap the fair Esmeralda, the daughter of Clopin, the ward of the king of the underworld. The dashing Phoebus rescues her and takes her under his wing. Quasimodo is sentenced to be lashed in the public square. As he suffers under the sting of the whip, Esmeralda comes and brings him water. From that time he is her devoted slave. Jehan and Clopin both learn that Phoebus plans to wed Esmeralda, and do all in their power to break up the affair, but fail. Jehan then stabs and wounds Phoebus and lays the blame on Esmeralda. She is sentenced to death, but is rescued by Quasimodo and takes refuge in the Cathedral. Clopin tries to storm the Cathedral, while crafty Jehan attempts to loot the treasure vaults. Quasimodo routs the invaders with torrents of molten lead, and kills Jehan by throwing him off the ramparts of Notre Dame. Just before he does, however, Jehan fatally stabs Quasimodo in the back with his knife. Phoebus comes to the rescue and encounters Esmeralda. As she and Phoebus clasp each other to their hearts, Quasimodo rings his own death toll. After ringing the bell, Quasimodo dies. Esmeralda and Phoebus leave without even noticing that Quasimodo is mortally wounded, but Dom Claude enters just in time to see him die.

Cast

Preservation

Original prints of the film were on cellulose nitrate film stock and were either worn out, decomposed or were destroyed by the studio (mostly the latter). Original prints were on tinted film stock in various colors, including sunshine, amber, rose, lavender and blue.

The only surviving prints of the film are 16 mm "show-at-home" prints distributed by Universal in the 1920s and 1930s for home-movie purposes, and no original 35mm negatives or prints survive. Most video editions (including public domain releases) of the film are derived from 16 mm duplicate prints that were distributed by Blackhawk Films in the 1960s and 1970s. A DVD release of a newly restored print of the film was released by Image Entertainment on October 9, 2007.

See also

External links

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