The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939 film)
|The Hunchback of Notre Dame|
|Directed by||William Dieterle|
|Produced by||Pandro S. Berman|
|Screenplay by||Sonya Levien
Bruno Frank (Adaptation)
|Based on||The Hunchback of Notre Dame
by Victor Hugo
Sir Cedric Hardwicke
|Music by||Alfred Newman|
|Cinematography||Joseph H. August|
|Edited by||William Hamilton
|Distributed by||RKO Radio Pictures|
|Running time||116 minutes|
The Hunchback of Notre Dame is a 1939 American film starring Charles Laughton as Quasimodo and Maureen O'Hara as Esmeralda. It was directed by William Dieterle and produced by Pandro S. Berman, and was a remake of the more famous 1923 silent film version starring Lon Chaney.
Differences between the film and the novel
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The plot differs considerably from that of the original novel. The main differences are that Esmeralda and Quasimodo remain alive at the end, unlike in the novel, in which Esmeralda is hanged and Quasimodo is presumed dead, but two years later a hunchback skeleton is found at her grave site.
The characters of Claude Frollo and Jehan Frollo are changed as in the 1923 film: instead of being the bad archdeacon as in the novel, Claude is a good archdeacon, and his original position as a villain was given to his younger brother, Jehan, who was a drunken student in the novel and again portrayed as an older man instead of a teenager. In this film, however, Jehan is portrayed as King Louis XI's Chief Justice of Paris. He is also a close advisor of the King, while in the novel they don't know each other. Jehan's death was portrayed close to his older brother's original one, but a major difference is that in the novel Claude was watching Esmeralda's execution when Quasimodo killed him.
Captain Phoebus, who is only wounded by Claude in the novel, is killed by Jehan in this film version; therefore, as in the novel, Esmeralda is wrongly accused for the crime, but her attraction for Phoebus is not explored by the film after the incident. Another difference is that Jehan confesses his crime to his brother, and he is the one who is in charge of Esmeralda's trial and sentences her to death.
The personal history of Esmeralda is ignored by the film. In the novel, it is revealed that she was not born as a gypsy and her mother is a recluse in Paris. In the film she is born as a gypsy, and her mother is not portrayed and neither is her background.
At the end of the film, Esmeralda is pardoned and freed from hanging and then leaves with Pierre Gringoire and a huge crowd out of the public square. In the novel, Gringoire left Esmeralda with Claude Frollo capturing her and saves her goat instead, resulting in Esmeralda's death. The film also makes it clear that in the end Esmeralda truly loves Gringoire, whereas in the novel she merely tolerates him.
- Charles Laughton as Quasimodo
- Maureen O'Hara as Esmeralda
- Cedric Hardwicke as Jehan Frollo
- Thomas Mitchell as Clopin Trouillefou
- Edmond O'Brien as Pierre Gringoire
- Alan Marshal as Captain Phoebus
- Walter Hampden as Claude Frollo
- Harry Davenport as King Louis XI
- Katharine Alexander as Madame de Lys
- George Zucco as Procurator
- Fritz Leiber as Old Nobleman
- Etienne Girardot as Doctor
- Helene Whitney as Fleur de Lys
- Mina Gombell as Queen of Beggars
- Arthur Hohl as Olivier
- Curt Bois as Student
- George Tobias as Beggar
- Rod La Rocque as Phillippe
- Spencer Charters as Court Clerk
- Kathryn Adams as Fleur's Companion
- Dianne Hunter as Fleur's Companion
- Sig Arno as Tailor
- Academy Award for Best Original Music Score (Alfred Newman)
- Academy Award for Best Sound (John Aalberg)
The movie was very popular but because of its cost only made a profit of $100,000.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame was released on DVD on January 6, 1998.
- Richard Jewel, 'RKO Film Grosses: 1931-1951', Historical Journal of Film Radio and Television, Vol 14 No 1, 1994 p56
- Variety film review; December 20, 1939, page 14.
- Harrison's Reports film review; December 23, 1939, page 202.
- "The 12th Academy Awards (1940) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved 2011-08-12.
- Harvey, E. H. "The Hunchback of Notre Dame." The Harvard Crimson. Wednesday December 16, 1953. Retrieved on February 20, 2010.
- The Hunchback of Notre Dame at the Internet Movie Database
- The Hunchback of Notre Dame at AllMovie
- The Hunchback of Notre Dame at Turner Classic Movies