7.9/10
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81 user 33 critic

The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939)

Passed | | Drama, Horror, Romance | 29 December 1939 (USA)
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1:53 | Trailer

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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:

BIG beyond words!...Wondrous beyond belief!...Magnificent beyond compare! (Title lobby card). See more »

Genres:

Drama | Horror | 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 »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,800,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$3,270,000

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$6,877,900
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

On the first day of shooting, director William Dieterle assembled a crowd of extras in front of the cathedral set and called for Charles Laughton. The actor, in full costume and makeup, protested that he wasn't ready to play the scene yet and couldn't shoot that day. Dieterle said, "Please, Charles, the next time you are not ready, let me know it previously so I can plan accordingly." See more »

Goofs

The Cathedral is shown as having a full flight of steps up to the front doors. Notre Dame has always been more or less level with the square (le Parvis). See more »

Quotes

Quasimodo, the bell-ringer: Ohh, you asked me why I saved you. I tried to carry you off, and the next day, you gave me a drink of water, and a little pity.
See more »

Alternate Versions

Also available in a computer colorized version. See more »

Connections

Featured in The 54th Annual Academy Awards (1982) See more »

Soundtracks

Ave Maria
(1572) (uncredited)
Music by Tomás Luis de Victoria
Sung by mixed chorus during opening credits
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Heartbreaking Novel
21 October 2011 | by claudio_carvalhoSee all my reviews

In the end of Fifteenth Century, in the Feast of Fools in Paris, the deformed bell ringer Quasimodo (Charles Laughton) is elected the King of Fools. The gorgeous gypsy Esmeralda (Maureen O'Hara) does not have the necessary permit to stay in Paris and seeks sanctuary in the Notre Dame with the Archbishop of Paris. His brother, the Chief of Justice Frollo (Sir Cedric Hardwicke), has a repressed lust for the gypsy dancer and tries to force Esmeralda to go with him to the tower of the Cathedral. However she flees and Frollo orders Quasimodo to abduct the beautiful youngster.

Quasimodo catches her but she is rescued by Captain Phoebus (Alan Marshal) and feels a crush on him. Quasimodo is arrested and sentenced to be whipped in the square of Notre Dame. When he begs for water, Esmeralda is the only person that gives water to him. Meanwhile Esmeralda helps the poet Gringoire (Edmond O'Brien) that was going to be hanged by the King of the Beggars, accepting to marry Gringoire to save him from the gallows.

Esmeralda flirts with Captain Phoebus in a party and he is stabbed on his back by the jealous Frollo. Esmeralda takes the blame and is sentenced to the gallows. But Quasimodo rescues Esmeralda and brings her to the sanctuary of Notre Dame and expresses his love for the gypsy. Meanwhile a fight of classes between the nobles led by Frollo that want to hang Esmeralda, and the people, led by the beggars, gypsies and poets that want to protect the woman takes place.

"The Hunchback of Notre Dame" is one of the cruelest romances of the literature and cinema history in a dark age in France. The author of "Les Misérables", Victor Hugo, writes another heartbreaking novel, describing the fight of classes in the French society in the end of the Middle Ages. In this version of this sad tale of injustice, Charles Laughton is awesome with a memorable performance and Maureen O'Hara is very beautiful in the role of the seductive gypsy. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): "O Corcunda de Notre Dame" ("The Hunchback of Notre Dame")


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