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The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923)

In fifteenth century Paris, the brother of the archdeacon plots with the gypsy king to foment a peasant revolt. Meanwhile, a freakish hunchback falls in love with the gypsy queen.


Wallace Worsley


Victor Hugo (novel), Perley Poore Sheehan (adaptation) (as Perley Poor Sheehan) | 1 more credit »

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Lon Chaney ... Quasimodo
Patsy Ruth Miller ... Esmeralda
Norman Kerry ... Phoebus de Chateaupers
Kate Lester ... Madame de Condelaurier
Winifred Bryson Winifred Bryson ... Fleur de Lys
Nigel De Brulier ... Don Claudio (as Nigel de Brulier)
Brandon Hurst ... Jehan
Ernest Torrence ... Clopin (as Ernest Torrance)
Tully Marshall ... El Rey Luis XI
Harry von Meter ... Mons. Neufchatel (as Harry Van Meter)
Raymond Hatton ... Gringoire
Nick De Ruiz Nick De Ruiz ... Mons. Le Torteru (as Nick de Ruiz)
Eulalie Jensen ... Marie
Roy Laidlaw Roy Laidlaw ... Charmolu
Ray Myers ... Charmolu's Assistant (as W. Ray Meyers)


Clopin bought Esmeralda from the gypsies when she was young. Dancing in the square at the festival, Esmeralda is spotted by Jehan, the evil brother of the good archdeacon Claude Frollo. When he sets Quasimodo out to kidnap Esmeralda, Phoebus, Captain of the Guards, rescues her and captures Quasimodo. 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. After Clopin forces Esmeralda to leave Phoebus at the ball, she sends a note to Phoebus to meet her at Notre-Dame. In the garden, Phoebus is stabbed in the back by Jehan. Esmeralda is accused of stabbing Phoebus, convicted by the courts and sentenced to hang. When Esmeralda again rejects Jehan, he tells her that Phoebus is dead, even though it is not true. Clopin, Phoebus and Quasimodo all try different ways to save Esmeralda. Written by Tony Fontana <tony.fontana@spacebbs.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Victor Hugo's Immortal Classic See more »


Drama | Horror | Romance


Unrated | See all certifications »




Release Date:

6 September 1923 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

El jorobado de Notre Dame See more »


Box Office


$1,250,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$2,223,160, 31 December 1924

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


(Ontario) | (TCM Print) | (2006 alternate) |

Sound Mix:



Black and White | Color (tinted)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Wallace Worsley Jr., son of the film's director, said that many of the extras for the massive crowd scenes were recruited in downtown Los Angeles for $1.00 a night and meals. Among them, he said, were a good number of prostitutes, who did a "considerable sideline business" on the sets. Universal also hired 50 Pinkerton detectives and put them among the crowd, and their job was to catch pickpockets and various other thieves among the extras. See more »


After Esmeralda gives Quasimodo water (he's still chained down), the nose putty on Quasimodo's left cheek is coming loose - there's a noticeable gap between Lon Chaney's face and the nose putty used to make the fake cheek. See more »


Quasimodo: Why was I not made of stone, like thee?
See more »

Crazy Credits

Tully Marshall is billed erroneously as "El Rey Luis XI" which is Spanish for "King Louis XI". He should have been billed as "Le Roi Louis XI" which is French for "King Louis XI". See more »


Edited into Jekyll & Canada (2009) See more »

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User Reviews

Lon Chaney: Truly "The Man of a Thousand Faces"
27 March 2007 | by jluis1984See all my reviews

"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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