This is the third of the five versions of Paul Féval's swashbuckler: a silent one in the twenties,a first talkie in the thirties ,this one,then André Hunebelle's in 1959 and Philippe De Broca's in 1997.
It was 1944 and like so many movies of the occupation (see also "Le Comte De Monte-Cristo") ,it's escapist cinema.Jean Delannoy 's works are generally lackluster ;its precedent work "L'Eternel Retour" was also escapism,updating the legend of Tristan and Isolde ,but it had Jean Cocteau .
This is a muddled affair,and if you do not know the plot,you may find it hard to follow the tale,mainly in the first third.There's also a forgivable lack of means ,obvious in the scenes taking place in the Streets of Paris in the Regency time (between the Sun King and Louis the Fifteen).And if Pierre Blanchar is a convincing Hunchback,he is a listless Lagardère ,lacking dynamism,stamina and panache:in brief ,all that made Jean Marais unsurpassed as Lagardère (Daniel Auteuil did not outshine him either in the more modern version).Paul Bernard is a fine villain -he wants to marry the heroine with a so called Hunchback-,but it's the 1997 movie who featured the very best Gonzague ,portrayed by a sensational Fabrice Luchini.
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