The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Impact! Power! Fire! Pathos! Drama!

Drama Romance Horror
117 min     7.4     1939     USA

Overview

Paris, France, 1482. Frollo, Chief Justice of benevolent King Louis XI, gets infatuated by the beauty of Esmeralda, a gypsy young girl. The hunchback Quasimodo, Frollo's protege and bell-ringer of Notre Dame, lives in peace among the bells in the heights of the immense cathedral until he is involved by the twisted magistrate in his malicious plans to free himself from Esmeralda's alleged spell, which he believes to be the devil's work.

Reviews

John Chard wrote:
Incredible film-making, bravo for real classics. What a truly lavish and gorgeous film this is, thematically it pulls the emotions in different directions, and as a story it's as sharp as a tack. Boasting a quite incredible performance from Charles Laughton as the tragic bell ringer Quasimodo (no nomination Academy, are you flipping sure?), and sets that are simply out of this world, this film to me defines classic cinema. Into the mix we get a radiant Maureen O'Hara as Esmeralda who lights up the screen in every scene she is in, it's a very special performance in view of it being her first lead US turn. However, really the film's triumph lies with its script, a very aware piece of writing encompassing political goings on and the corruption of the church set around the hunchback's tragic love. The make up of Laughton leaves an indelible image when brought into focus with the great detail of the surroundings, and the score is mightily appropriate. All in all this film cost 2 Million Dollars for RKO Studios, one of their most expensive outlays, but they were rewarded in spades as the film was a monster success and here in the modern day age of cinema the film still stands up as a benchmark for great movie making. 9/10

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