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The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939)
Hardwicke is a Standout as Frollo!
I may be a bit partial to Sir Cedric Hardwicke, but I cannot help but admire the performances he gave in motion pictures. As Frollo in this excellent version of Victor Hugo's novel, he is definitely a standout. The whole film is very well done. Laughton as Quasimodo is memorable, but it is Sir Cedric who steals the show with his fascinating portrayal of the wretched monk. It is one of the greatest of all film performances. I've seen several versions of Hugo's novel where Frollo is portrayed as a decadent pervert whose sole purpose in life is to possess the body of Esmeralda. This is not how Hugo wrote his character, nor is this how Hardwicke portrayed Frollo. As a matter of fact, Frollo is a much more fascinating character than Quasimodo. I'm not saying that Quasimodo isn't a character worthy of attention. Far from it... Frollo just has more meat and depth to who he is. He is not a completely despicable character. He's actually a decent man whose sole fault has to do with his repressed sexual lust. He's very intelligent in an intellectual sense, and he does care for people. After all, he adopted Quasimodo when the rest of the world cast him away. The appearance of Esmeralda simply awakened in him a "detested feeling" (For him sex was disgusting in an Augustinian sense) which lay dormant and which eventually possessed him. Hardwicke was able to convey not only the obsessively passionate part of Frollo but also the pitiable side. Overall, it was a performance that lingers in the mind long after the movie has ended. Check out Hardwicke's other role as Bishop Bienvenue in Hugo's Les Miserables (1935). Forget the musical version. That's just modern day noise and fireworks. These two performances (As Frollo in "The Hunchback" and Bishop Bienvenue in "Les Miserables") in Hugo adaptations are the best ever captured on film. If you doubt me, see the films for yourself.
Les Misérables (1935)
Greatest Film Ever Made! Hardwicke Is A Standout As The Good Priest!
Of course, this is my opinion. Great films are not easily defined, but this has everything in it: strong characterization, great story, great acting, and great scriptwriting. This is also a successful abbreviated adaptation of a very long novel. I first saw it when I was 11 years old back in December of 1979. It stuck in my mind for five years, but I didn't know what the name of the film was or what book it was based on until I accidentally saw the 1978 remake of it on t.v. late one night in 1984. The 1978 version was a good film, but not nearly as good as the 1935 version. I then borrowed the Victor Hugo novel from the library and read it, but it was not until the spring of 1986 that I was able to tape a late night version of this excellent film. Frederic March was the best Jean Valjean. He portrayed both sides of the tortured protagonist (desperate peasant and selfless businessman) with a spirit and passion unequaled by later Valjeans. Charles Laughton was equally superb as the obsessed antagonist, Inspector Javert. One could not help but feel pity for him in the final moments of the film. The best scenes in the film, however, were the ones with Sir Cedric Hardwicke as Bishop Bienvenue. Hardwicke is so credible in his brief scenes that we actually believe he is the kind bishop rather than an actor playing a part. Hardwicke is aided by the brilliant writing of the scriptwriter, W.P. Lipscomb, whose writing here matches Hugo's himself. If there is any movie you should watch before you die, this is the one to see.
This is an opportunity to see Sir Cedric Hardwicke in a leading role. It's unfortunate that he made only two silent films because he was a natural in the medium. He didn't "overplay" as many silent film actors understandably did but played his role with a reserve and believability rare for that time. "Nelson" is excellent and a must see for anyone interested in British history (particularly naval history) or Sir Cedric. Admiral Nelson was a true hero, and Hardwicke captures the essence of the man with his realistic portrayal. One of the most moving scenes in the film comes at the end when the dying Nelson utters the words, "Thank God, I have done my duty." It is a selfless end for a noble soul, and Hardwicke pulls it off wonderfully.
The Robe (1953)
Jay Robinson -- Great Performance!
This is a great film. I never get tired of watching it. Richard Burton gives one of his best performances, but it is the character parts that make this film memorable. Michael Rennie as Peter is perfectly suited for the role. He gives a wonderfully ascetic performance. Jeff Morrow as the centurion dominates the scenes he's in with his weary observations and his underlying contempt for the privileged but dissipated Marcellus. But it is Jay Robinson's performance as Caligula that remains unforgettable. His role as the maniacal Roman emperor is one of the most entertaining film performances I have ever seen. Get this film!
Nell Gwyn (1934)
Great film!!! Hardwicke shines!
This is one of my favorite movies. Sir Cedric Hardwicke is brilliant as the lonely King Charles II. Mostly forgotten today, Hardwicke, in my humble opinion, was the greatest actor of the twentieth century. This is one of his most important screen roles and ranks right beside his portrayals of the bishop in "Les Miserables" and Claude Frollo in "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" as his best. Hardwicke brings dignity to the role of the womanizing king and portrays him in a kind and sympathetic light rather than the debauched and dissipated image in which Charles is presented today. If only we had Hardwicke's great stage performances preserved on film... Highly recommended for its script, music, and acting (especially Sir Cedric). Don't miss this film!