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The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939)

Passed | | Drama, Romance | 29 December 1939 (USA)
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1:54 | Trailer
In 15th century France, a gypsy girl is framed for murder by the infatuated Chief Justice, and only the deformed bellringer of Notre Dame Cathedral can save her.

Director:

William Dieterle

Writers:

Sonya Levien (screen play), Bruno Frank (adaptation) | 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 2 Oscars. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Charles Laughton ... The Hunchback Quasimodo
Cedric Hardwicke ... Frollo (as Sir Cedric Hardwicke)
Thomas Mitchell ... Clopin
Maureen O'Hara ... Esmeralda
Edmond O'Brien ... Gringoire
Alan Marshal ... Phoebus
Walter Hampden ... Archdeacon
Harry Davenport ... King Louis XI
Katharine Alexander ... Madame de Lys
George Zucco ... Procurator
Fritz Leiber ... Old Nobleman
Etienne Girardot ... Doctor
Helene Reynolds ... Fleur de Lys (as Helene Whitney)
Minna Gombell ... Queen of Beggars (as Mina Gombell)
Arthur Hohl ... Olivier
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Storyline

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 <tony.fontana@spacebbs.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Impact ! Power ! Pathos ! Drama ! See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

29 December 1939 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Victor Hugo's Immortal Classic The Hunchback of Notre Dame See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,800,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

(Turner library print) (copyright length)

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Victor System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Goofs

The film opens in Paris during the Feast of Fools. In medieval France, the Feast of Fools took place on January 1st, yet the film isn't set in the wintertime. See more »

Quotes

Esmeralda: [to Follo] Your hand. There's the mark of the devil on it. Mother of God, don't let them hang me! Protect me! Protect me!
Frollo: Praying won't help you. You come from an evil race.
Esmeralda: You don't know anything about my people.
Frollo: Honest people don't live by witchcraft and magic.
Esmeralda: If we really had the power of magic, do you think we'd choose to be outcasts, to be poor and persecuted always? Surely we'd use it for our own benefit.
Frollo: All gypsies should be destroyed by fire and sword.
Esmeralda: You mustn't talk like that in ...
See more »

Alternate Versions

Also available in a computer colorized version. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Secrets of Dick Smith (1991) See more »

Soundtracks

Ave Maria
(1572) (uncredited)
Music by Tomás Luis de Victoria
Sung by mixed chorus during opening credits
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Superb, complex

What a great film! I've seen bits and pieces of it throughout my life, but never paid it much attention because I figured it was just another old monster movie. Not true! For whatever reason, I paid attention when I caught it on cable this afternoon, and I was MESMERIZED! It's so complex, and well-acted, and enlightened. The story revolves around a beautiful Gypsy woman, pleading for the rights of her people against pervasive anti-Gypsy prejudice--a problem in the Middle Ages as it was when the film was made in 1939. (In real life, Hitler was just a couple of years away from attempting to exterminate the Gypsy people, which would leave some 200,000 to 300,000 Gypsies dead by the time this film was six years old.) She is loved by practically every man who meets her, among them a grotesquely deformed bell-ringer, a starry-eyed itinerant singer/poet/writer, a dashing police captain, and the bitterly warped Chief Justice Frollo. The acting is great, the characters are three-dimensional. Laughton, with just a few grunts and grimaces, conveys all the sorrow and pathos and innocence and madness behind hunchback's mask-like face. And one can feel sorry--almost--for the evil Frollo; there is indeed a human being down there somewhere, just as Esmeralda says. The passions of the mob are realistic, as they vacillate between merciless sadism, sentimentalism, and a thirst for justice. All these characters, and all the social and political forces of medieval Paris (and 19th-century Paris, and 1930's liberal Hollywood) come swirling together, and it's not always clear who's right and who's wrong, and the results are fascinating!


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