Gotta say the 1956 version of Quasimodo was quite a disappoint. For a version that works so hard to maintain the plot of the book it really failed with Quasimodo’s character.
First off this Quasimodo isn’t a Hunchback, he is a slouch-back. He stands up fairly straight. I’m not sure if was this was the director trying to make Quasimodo more human or Anthony Quinn being lazy. My guess this was the director’s decision and I don’t agree. You can’t really have the Hunchback of Notre Dame without the Hunch. If the director wanted to humanize Quasimodo he could have done it with the make-up but I think he missed the point. The point of Quasimodo is he the most human character but he looks like a monster. Having him not have the hunch takes away a big part of his character instead of being deformed he is just ugly. Although in the pillory scene you do see a hunch, too bad it disappears when he puts his shirt back on.
That is not it though, Quasimodo’s personality is very watered down to point where I’m not quite sure if he has one. He makes comments about people being bad but he spends most of his time mumbling and giggling. He just comes off a childish but with zero charm or interest. You don’t feel for him; his pain, his love, his despair, nothing. So when we get the the original ending to the book in a movie you can’t feel anything because you have sent two hours not feeling anything for the emotional core of the movie.
The movie tries to make you feel for Quasimodo but due the performance you really can’t connect with this Quasimodo and that does weaken the second half of the movie. It’s like all the pieces are there to make an good Quasimodo but they don’t connect right and we’re left with a half-form Quasimodo.
The only good thing to come for this Quasimodo is after Esmeralda gives him water he says ‘beautiful” or “Belle” and that inspired one of the greatest Hunchback songs ever.
Also why is Quasimodo holding a cat? What’s up with Hunchback versions interting cats into shots?
Next 1956 Article – Frollo