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The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939)

Not Rated | | Drama, Romance | 29 December 1939 (USA)
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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.

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(screen play), (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:
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Frollo (as Sir Cedric Hardwicke)
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Archdeacon
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Madame de Lys
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Procurator
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Old Nobleman
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Fleur de Lys (as Helene Whitney)
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Queen of Beggars (as Mina Gombell)
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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:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

29 December 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

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

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Budget:

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

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

(Turner library print) (copyright length)

Sound Mix:

(RCA Victor System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Joyce Gardner was originally slated to play the role of Fleur, but a scheduling conflict prevented her appearance. See more »

Goofs

Near the end, in the king's chambers when meeting with Frollo and the Archdeacon, the boom mic shadow follows the king onto a book-stand, then when noticed, it is pulled back. See more »

Quotes

Clopin: [to Gringoire immediately following flogging of Quasimodo] Never trust a man with pinched nostrils and thin lips.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Jack and Jill (2011) 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

A Fine Adaptation With Laughton, O'Hara, & More
5 October 2004 | by See all my reviews

Charles Laughton's boisterous portrayal of Quasimodo and Maureen O'Hara's charm as Esmerelda are two of the things that make this version of "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" a fine production that still works very well. Most of the versions of the story have been at least watchable, because the Victor Hugo novel provides so much good material to work with, much of it well-suited for cinema. This adaptation, though, is one of the best at making good use of what it offers.

It's interesting to compare this picture with the 1923 Lon Chaney version - not for the sake of ranking them, since both are fully worthy of attention in their own right, but because they offer somewhat different strengths, and because they emphasize somewhat different aspects of the story.

Chaney and Laughton are both quite effective as Quasimodo, each giving an interpretation of the character that corresponds to the actor's skills. Laughton brings out Quasimodo's feelings and perspective quite well. In this version, for example, the flogging scene is longer and more detailed, and it is one of Laughton's most effective scenes. Chaney is particularly good at reacting to the other characters and their actions. Both give the character a distinctive and memorable look.

O'Hara is also one of this adaptation's strengths. Patsy Ruth Miller was good in the Chaney version, but O'Hara has the advantage of spoken dialogue, and she makes the character of Esmerelda her own.

While the Chaney version especially emphasized the atmosphere, this one has quite a bit of action. The tumultuous climactic sequences are done quite well, and they leave a vivid impression. Overall, this is a very satisfying adaptation of the fine classic novel.


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