Hunchback Of Notre Dame

( 6 )

Overview

Few will argue with the contention that RKO Radio's 1939 adaptation of Victor Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre Dame was the best of the many screen versions of the Hugo classic. We say this even allowing for certain liberties taken with the source material-liberties calculated by scenarists Sonya Levien and Bruno Frank to draw parallels between 15th century Paris and 20th century Europe. Thus, Claude Frollo Cedric Hardwicke, the villain of the piece, is no longer merely a religious hypocrite unable to control his ...
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Overview

Few will argue with the contention that RKO Radio's 1939 adaptation of Victor Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre Dame was the best of the many screen versions of the Hugo classic. We say this even allowing for certain liberties taken with the source material-liberties calculated by scenarists Sonya Levien and Bruno Frank to draw parallels between 15th century Paris and 20th century Europe. Thus, Claude Frollo Cedric Hardwicke, the villain of the piece, is no longer merely a religious hypocrite unable to control his own carnal desires. Instead, Frollo is a bush-league Hitler, warning that the invention of the printing press is dangerous in that it will encourage the rabble to think for themselves, and plotting the persecution and destruction of the "undesirable" gypsies. In the same vein, Gringoire the Poet Edmond O'Brien in his film debut has been transformed into an agit-prop "Group Theatre" activist, bent on bringing the unvarnished truth to the ignorant Parisians. Many of Hugo's subplots have been dispensed with, the better to concentrate on the grotesquely deformed Quasimodo Charles Laughton, bell-ringer of Notre Dame Cathedral, and his puppylike loyalty towards imperiled gypsy dancer Esmerelda Maureen O'Hara, in her first American film appearance. The schism between the haves and have-nots in the walled city of Paris is illustrated in broad, visually dynamic strokes by director William Dieterle.
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Special Features

Closed Caption; Behind-the-scenes documentary featuring an interview with Maureen O'Hara
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Dan Jardine
Set in fifteenth century France, The Hunchback of Notre Dame captures the medieval era's tumult, as superstition and prejudice war with progress, both material and intellectual. Church and state unite to attempt to hold back the waves of change sweeping over Europe, as it rides the crest of the Renaissance. Charles Laughton's performance as Quasimodo, the misshapen protagonist, is every bit as moving as Lon Chaney's work in the earlier silent film. Overcoming his physical deformity and status as social outcast, Quasimodo represents all that is most noble and heroic about mankind, while the physically commanding Frollo, a man of immense political and religious power, acts as his morally corrupt and sexually repressed counterpoint. Maureen O'Hara's film debut is also memorable; the passions she inspires in the men around her are wholly believable. The recreation of medieval Paris is an awesome achievement, and the elegance of the production values is indisputable. Director William Dieterle manages a difficult task well, creating a film of both great sweep and remarkable intimacy. The film takes some liberties with the source material, but it captures the essence of Victor Hugo's novel very well. It was nominated for two Academy Awards (music and sound); Laughton's definitive performance was overlooked by the Academy.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 11/9/2010
  • UPC: 883929151387
  • Original Release: 1939
  • Rating:

  • Source: Turner Home Ent
  • Region Code: 1
  • Presentation: Repackaged / Subtitled / Pan & Scan / Dubbed
  • Time: 1:57:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 3,417

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Charles Laughton Quasimodo
Cedric Hardwicke Dom Claude Frollo
Maureen O'Hara Esmeralda
Thomas Mitchell Clopin
Edmond O'Brien Pierre Gringoire
Walter Hampden Archbishop
Alan Marshal Phoebus de Chateaupers
Harry Davenport Louis XI
Katherine Alexander Madame De Lys
George Zucco Procurator
Fritz Leiber Old Nobleman
Etienne Girardot The King's Physician
Helene Whitney Fleur De Lys
Minna Gombell Queen of Beggars
Arthur Hohl Olivier
Rod La Rocque Phillipo
Spencer Charters Court Clerk
Curt Bois
Rondo Hatton
George Tobias Beggar
Technical Credits
William Dieterle Director
Joseph H. August Cinematographer
Pandro S. Berman Producer
Bruno Frank Screenwriter
Willaim Hamilton Editor
Sonya Levien Screenwriter
Alfred Newman Score Composer
Walter Plunkett Costumes/Costume Designer
Van Nest Polglase Art Director
John Stoll Production Designer
Vernon Walker Special Effects
Robert Wise Editor
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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Hunchback of Notre Dame
1. Credits/Prologue [1:52]
2. Expressed Thoughts [3:13]
3. Fools Day Frolic [2:57]
4. Crowd Particpates [3:42]
5. King of Fools [4:40]
6. Answered Prayers? [9:02]
7. Esmeralda Flees [4:33]
8. Court of Beggars [2:52]
9. Put to the Test [2:54]
10. Gringoire Rescuer [6:52]
11. Quasimodo Verdict [2:40]
12. Public Scrourging [5:42]
13. A Moment's Mercy [3:50]
14. She Gave Me Water [2:19]
15. Bells of Rapture [1:55]
16. Frollo Confesses [4:34]
17. Lovers Unto Death [2:19]
18. The Devil's Logic [3:51]
19. Esmeralda On Trial [4:51]
20. Tortured/Sentenced [6:21]
21. Witnessing Penance [3:03]
22. Sanctuary! [1:48]
23. Tower Tour [6:09]
24. Dangerous Opinion [5:42]
25. Guilt Revealed [2:17]
26. Defend Notre Dame [7:12]
27. Liquid Repellent [2:50]
28. Frollo's Fall [2:36]
29. Freedom [1:43]
30. Why Not Stone? [1:30]
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Menu

Disc #1 -- Hunchback of Notre Dame
   Jump to a Scene
   Special Features
      Cast & Crew
         Charles Laughton - Quasimodo
         Sir Cedric Hardwicke - Frollo
         Thomas Mitchell - Clopin
         Maureen O'Hara - Esmeralda
         Edmond O'Brien - Gringoire
         Alan Marshal - Phoebus
         Walter Hampden - Archdeacon
         Katharine Alexander - Madame De Lys
         Harry Davenport - King Louis XI
         Based On Victor Hugo's Notre-Dame De Paris
         Music By Alfred Newman
         Cinematography By Joseph H. August
         Produced By Pandro S Berman
         Screenplay By Sonya Levian
         Directed By William Dieterle
      Behind the Scenes
      Heroic Casting
      1939
      Documentary
      Theatrical Trailer
   Select Languages
      Soundtracks
         English
         Español
      Subtitles
         English
         Français
         Español
         Subtitles: Off
   Recommendations
      Actors
      Genre
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 6 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(3)

4 Star

(1)

3 Star

(2)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 23, 2011

    Pretty good for an old movie. . .

    This movie didn't precisely follow the beloved classic by victor hugo, but it did come pretty close, more so than many of the other editions. A decent movie, for its time, and it did have a rather fast paced plot. A majority of the characters were well chosen, such as the dry Frollo (who is a judge, not a priest, as in the novel), Gringoire (who was really charming in the movie!), and Clopin. These characters were portrayed very nicely, I thought, but the character, Esmeralda (though very beautiful) just didn't seem to match the shy, timid character in the story. Many other crucial details in the novel were also neglected to be shown in the movie, and some characters were left out, including the gambler Jahan, and the goat, Djali. Frollo, too, was underdeveloped and one-sided, being some evil villain in the movie, whereas in the novel he was a tragic protagonist, driven mad by his love, and coming to hate himself for this love. Many events were changed, and many were also added. Additionally, the ending, too, was changed, and the hollywood ending of this film seemed a bit sloppy, and made little sense! All in all, though, it was a decent movie, and it did portray victor hugo's novel better than most, although it certainly wasn't a perfect portrayal!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 23, 2011

    Not bad for an old movie. . .

    This movie was a decent movie, all in all, and did follow Victor Hugo's novel pretty well, better than most versions which have attempted to (and certainly better than the Disney movie!!!). The movie did include some of the events included in the book, and most of the characters were well chosen, such as the charming Gringoire, the dry Frollo (who is a judge, and not a priest as he was in the novel), and the grungy Clopin. In the movie, the character who played Esmeralda, though, seemed not to fit the beloved character in the book (although she was pretty, she did not portray the shy, timid character in the book). A lot of the major events in the novel, though, were neglected from being portrayed, and the character, Frollo, seemed underdeveloped, having been the tragic protagonist in the novel, who hated himself for his passion, and was eventually driven mad by it, instead being one sided and evil in the film. Some events were added, and the ending also was altered, and seemed rather sloppy, and made little sense, in my opinion, All in all, a decent portrayal of victor hugo's novel (although a LOT is altered!) and also a decent movie, for its time!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 1, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Hunchback Of Notre Dame is a cinema classic!

    This movie continues to entertain and never gets dull. As old as the movie is, the performances are timeless, and each character shows humanity the way it always was and will ever be. I think it shows all ranges of human emotion, such as love, compassion, as well as sadness, hatred, jealousy, and prejudice towards unfortunate people that live among us. Laughton, O'Hara, Mitchell, and O'Brien are wonderful in their character roles, and I'll bet this is one movie they were very proud to be a part of.

    Warner Bros. did a good job in the transfer, the only thing I disliked of the presentation was the packaging. The snapper case is a cheap awkward way to release this, and I hope they do away with this in ALL their releases one day. If you want to give yourself a treat, buy this one. It's a great picture of humanity-warts and all.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    quasimodo rules

    The only flaw in an otherwise perfect movie...ignore edmund o'brien hambone caricature....how esmeralda digs him is beyond belief. The final scene, esmeralda looking over her shoulder, the final line....and music that follows...whew and wow.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 28, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews