The performance in the 1923 version are for the most part are good. There are some delightful moments of hammy 1920’s acting. Like when Jehan walks in with the cape up to his eyes. The only thing hammier would have been if he twisted his mustache and tied Esmeralda to a train track.
Chaney excels as Quasimodo. His best moments are when he is watching Esmeralda dance and she shun him for his ugliness, Esmeralda giving him water on the pillory, and his death scene.
In her book, Pasty Ruth Miller told a story about how Chaney told her that it wasn’t important for her to live the role but to make the audience feel the emotion the character. So Chaney wasn’t a much a of method actor.
What it really comes down to in the 1923 version of Hunchback, is with the exception of Chaney, is that acting is good, not amazing, not terrible, it’s just good. I’m not offended by it but nor I’m particularly moved by it except for a few instances.
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