King Louis XI is a wise and old king and Frollo is the Chief Justice. Frollo gazes on the gypsy girl, Esmeralda, in the church during Fool's Day and sends Quasimodo to catch her. Quasimodo, with the girl, is captured by Phoebus, Captain of the Guards, who frees the girl. The courts sentence Quasimodo to be flogged, and the only one who will give him water while he is tied in the square is Esmeralda. Later, at a party of nobles, Esmeralda again meets both Frollo, who is bewitched by her, and Phoebus. When Phoebus is stabbed to death, Esmeralda is accused of the murder, convicted by the court and sentenced to hang. Clopin, King of the Beggars; Gringoire, Esmeralda's husband; and Quasimodo, the bellringer, all try different ways to save her from the gallows. Written by
Tony Fontana <email@example.com>
Well aware of the war raging in Europe, Charles Laughton chose a lull in the day's shooting to recite, in full Quasimodo costume, Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, as he had done in Ruggles of Red Gap (1935). As in the previous film, it stunned the cast and crew for the rest of the shooting day. See more »
In this story set in 15th century France, a character wears glasses kept in place with strings that loop around the ears. That type of eyeglasses was invented in Spain during the reign of Philip II in the 16th century. See more »
Quasimodo, the bell-ringer:
I never realized till now how ugly I am, because you're so beautiful... I'm not a man! I'm not a beast! I'm about as shapeless as the man in the moon! I'm deaf, you know, but you can speak to me by signs.
Why did you save me?
Quasimodo, the bell-ringer:
You ask me why I saved you? Oh, I tried to carry you off, and the next day you gave me a drink of water and little pity.
See more »
This version of "The Hunchback of Notre-Dame" is the finest film version that I've ever seen and the critics normally agree that it's the best screen adaptation of the classic novel. Charles Laughton is unforgettable as the pathetic, misshapen bellringer who falls in love with a beautiful gypsy girl. He brings such a range of emotions and expressions to his role that he will always be instantly recognizable, in his make-up, as Quasimodo and his performance will always be lauded as one of the best on the screen. Maureen O'Hara is stunning (in her first American film) as Esmeralda, the gypsy girl. She is lovely to look at in each one of her scene's and shows a special sort of kindness and sympathy toward the hunchback that other actresses who have played the role have failed to convey in the role (albeit, Patsy Ruth Miller was very good in the Lon Chaney silent version). There are many touching scenes in this film; Esmeralda bringing Quasimodo water while he's on the pillory, the rousing saving of Esmeralda from the gallows and the bittersweet finale (which makes one melt like butter) are all cinematic gems. Also, there is the splendor of many memorable mob scenes and a beautiful reconstruction of medieval beggar ridden Paris. See this version. It's the best one to date and is yet another one of the many jewels in Hollywood's 1939 crown!
38 of 43 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?