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The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939 film)

the hunchback of notre dame (1939 film), the hunchback of notre dame (1939 film)mougli)viedeo
The Hunchback of Notre Dame is a 1939 American film starring Charles Laughton as Quasimodo and Maureen O'Hara as Esmeralda34 Directed by William Dieterle and produced by Pandro S Berman, the film was based on Victor Hugo's novel of the same name

For this production RKO Radio Pictures built on their movie ranch a massive medieval city of Paris and Notre Dame Cathedral, one of the largest and most extravagant sets ever constructed


  • 1 Plot
  • 2 Cast
  • 3 Censorship
  • 4 Award nominations
  • 5 Reception
  • 6 Home video
  • 7 References
  • 8 External links



"With the end of the 15th century, the Middle Ages came to a close Europe began to see great changes France, ravaged by a hundred years of War, at last found peace The people under Louis XI felt free to hope again ~ to dream of progress But superstition and prejudice often stood in the way, seeking to crush the adventurous spirit of man"


The film opens with Louis XI, the King of France, and Jean Frollo, the King's Chief Justice of Paris, visiting a printing shop Frollo is determined to do everything in his power to rid Paris of anything he sees as evil, including the printing press and gypsies, who at the time are persecuted and prohibited from entering Paris That day is Paris' annual celebration, the Festival of Fools Esmeralda, a young gypsy girl, is seen dancing in front of an audience of people Quasimodo, the hunchback and bell ringer of Notre Dame Cathedral, is crowned the King of Fools until Frollo catches up to him and takes him back to the church

Esmeralda is caught by guards for entering Paris without a permit and is being chased after until she seeks safety in Notre Dame, in which Claude, the Archbishop of Paris and Jean's brother, protects her She prays to the Virgin Mary to help her fellow gypsies only to be confronted by Jean Frollo, who accuses her of being a heathen Afterwards, she asks King Louis to help her people, to which he agrees Frollo then takes her up to the bell tower where they encounter Quasimodo, of whom she is frightened She tries to run away from the hunchback until he catches up to her and physically carries her away Pierre Gringoire, a poor street poet, witnesses all this, and calls out to Captain Phoebus and his guards, who capture Quasimodo just in time Esmeralda is then saved and starts falling in love with Phoebus Gringoire later trespasses the Court of Miracles but is saved by Esmeralda from hanging by marrying him

The next day, Quasimodo is sentenced to be lashed in the square and publicly humiliated afterwards Frollo, seeing this, realizes that he can't stop the sentence because it already happened, and abandons him instead However, Esmeralda arrives and gives him water, and this awakens Quasimodo's love for her

Maureen O'Hara as Esmeralda

Later that night, Esmeralda is invited by the nobles to their party Frollo shows up to the party, where he confesses to Esmeralda his lust for her Afterwards, she dances in front of the nobles and moves away from the crowd with Phoebus to a garden where they share a moment between each other Frollo then kills Phoebus out of jealousy, and Esmeralda is wrongly accused of his death Afterwards, Gringoire visits Esmeralda in her prison cell to console her Frollo confesses the crime to his brother, and intends to sentence Esmeralda to death for it which he does, saying that she has "bewitched" him After Esmeralda is about to be hanged in the gallows, Quasimodo saves her by taking her to the cathedral

When Gringoire and Clopin realize that the nobles are planning to revoke Notre Dame's right of sanctuary, they both try different methods in order to save Esmeralda from hanging Gringoire writes a pamphlet that will prevent this from happening, and Clopin leads the beggars to storm the cathedral Frollo confesses his crime to King Louis, for which Louis orders Olivier to arrest him Afterwards, the King talks to Gringoire after reading his pamphlet Meanwhile, Quasimodo and the guards of Paris fight off Clopin and the beggars Afterwards, he sees Frollo in the bell tower seeking to harm Esmeralda, and throws him off the cathedral top Later that morning, Esmeralda is pardoned and freed from hanging, and her Gypsy people are also finally freed Then, she leaves with Gringoire and a huge crowd out of the public square The film makes it clear that in the end Esmeralda truly loves Gringoire Quasimodo sees all this from high on the cathedral and says sadly, to a gargoyle, "Why was I not made of stone, like thee", and the film ends


  • Charles Laughton as Quasimodo
  • Sir Cedric Hardwicke as Judge Jean Frollo
  • Thomas Mitchell as Clopin Trouillefou
  • Maureen O'Hara as Esmeralda
  • Edmond O'Brien as Pierre Gringoire
  • Alan Marshal as Captain Phoebus
  • Walter Hampden as Archbishop 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 the King's 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 LaRocque as Phillippe
  • Spencer Charters as Court Clerk
  • Kathryn Adams as Fleur's Companion
  • Dianne Hunter as Fleur's Companion
  • Siegfried Arno as Tailor


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 good, 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 The only difference in this film is that Claude credited as "Archdeacon" in the end credits is portrayed as the Archbishop of Paris, and Jehan known in the film as "Jean Frollo" or simply "Frollo" is portrayed as a judge and close advisor to the King

Award nominationsedit

The film was nominated for two Academy Awards:5

  • Academy Award for Best Original Music Score Alfred Newman
  • Academy Award for Best Sound John Aalberg


Frank S Nugent of The New York Times wrote a mostly negative review of the film, finding it "little more" than "a freak show" Though he acknowledged it was "handsome enough of production and its cast is expert," he called it "almost unrelievedly brutal and without the saving grace of unreality which makes Frankenstein's horrors a little comic"6 Variety called the film a "super thriller-chiller" but found that the elaborate sets tended to overwhelm the story, particularly in the first half7 Harrison's Reports wrote, "Very good! Audiences should be thrilled anew by this lavish remake of Victor Hugo's famous novel"8 Film Daily called it "compelling, dynamic entertainment"9 John Mosher of The New Yorker wrote that Laughton "achieves something like a tour de force The lines themselves such modernisms as 'to buy protection', along with a perfunctory plot arrangement, are among the weak features of the film, which otherwise is a vivid pictorial drama of fifteenth-century Paris"10 E H Harvey of The Harvard Crimson said that the film "in all is more than entertaining" He said that "the mediocre effects offer a forceful contrast to the great moments" in the film11

The movie was very popular but because of its cost only made a profit of $100,0002

Home videoedit

The Hunchback of Notre Dame was released on September 21, 2001 on DVD by Image Entertainment It was issued on Blu-ray disc by Warner Brothers on June 9, 2015


  1. ^ Hanson, Patricia King, ed 1993 The American Film Institute Catalog of Motion Pictures Produced in the United States: Feature Films, 1931-1940 Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press p 976 ISBN 0-520-07908-6 
  2. ^ a b c Richard Jewel, 'RKO Film Grosses: 1931-1951', Historical Journal of Film Radio and Television, Vol 14 No 1, 1994 p56
  3. ^ Variety film review; December 20, 1939, page 14
  4. ^ Harrison's Reports film review; December 23, 1939, page 202
  5. ^ "The 12th Academy Awards 1940 Nominees and Winners" oscarsorg Retrieved 2011-08-12 
  6. ^ Nugent, Frank S January 1, 1940 "Movie Review - The Hunchback of Notre Dame" The New York Times The New York Times Company Retrieved September 18, 2015 
  7. ^ "Film Reviews" Variety New York: Variety, Inc December 20, 1939 p 14 
  8. ^ "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" Harrison's Reports New York: Harrison's Reports, Inc: 202 December 23, 1939 
  9. ^ "Reviews of the New Films" Film Daily New York: Wid's Films & Film Folk, Inc: 4 December 15, 1939 
  10. ^ Mosher, John December 30, 1939 "The Current Cinema" The New Yorker New York: F-R Publishing Corp p 51 
  11. ^ Harvey, E H "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" The Harvard Crimson Wednesday December 16, 1953 Retrieved on February 20, 2010

External linksedit

  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame on Internet Movie Database
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame at AllMovie
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame at the TCM Movie Database
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame at the American Film Institute Catalog

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