Failed Frollo; The 1956 version of Frollo

Frollo (Alain Cuny), 1956 The Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Frollo (Alain Cuny), 1956 The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Frollo is the one of the major players in the story as he is the one who gets the story moving. In a way a Hunchback version needs a Frollo that they audience can enjoy whether he is just a dark and twisted man or a torture priest who is in conflict with his heart and his mind. So how does the 1956 version hold up?

Frollo (Alain Cuny) practices alchemy, 1956 The Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Frollo (Alain Cuny) practices alchemy, 1956 The Hunchback of Notre Dame

To the film’s credit this is the first time we see Frollo as a priest who practices alchemy and lusts after Esmeralda . Too bad he’s boring, I have seen pieces of toast more interesting than him. Much like this version’s depiction of Quasimodo, this Frollo fails.

Frollo (Alain Cuny), 1956 The Hunchback of Notre Dame picture iamge

Frollo (Alain Cuny), 1956 The Hunchback of Notre Dame

First off, his looks. It’s not Cuny is ideally handsome but he is WAY too handsome to play Frollo. Frollo, while he isn’t suppose old he suppose to look austere not rugged. It doesn’t help the story when Frollo and Phoebus look like they could be the same fashion show.

Quasimodo (Anthony Quinn) & Frollo (Alain Cuny), 1956 The Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Quasimodo (Anthony Quinn) & Frollo (Alain Cuny), 1956 The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Now this Frollo marks the first time we see Frollo as he was must to be; a tortured, lusty priest who practices alchemy on the side. The way Frollo showcases his torment in this movie is by scowling, hiding behind walls, and burying his face in this hands. On the whole we don’t connect with his torment for Esmeralda. We get a few scenes where glares at her but we never see him bear his soul like Frollo does in the 1939 version or in Disney version.

Frollo (Alain Cuny) and Esmeralda (Gina Lollobrigida), 1956 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Frollo (Alain Cuny) and Esmeralda (Gina Lollobrigida), 1956 Hunchback of Notre Dame

The only scene that serve to show Frollo as a more than a pseudo tormented lusty priest is during Esmeralda’s trial where he sort of defends her without giving himself away as the real attacker. But he turns on her when she speaks of love and life. Also Esmeralda says that during the trail he was the worst face of all so I guess that little scene didn’t have much of an impact the characters. But I guess it’s nice that they tried.

Frollo (Alain Cuny) and Esmeralda (Gina Lollobrigida), 1956 Hunchback of Notre Dame, picture image

Frollo (Alain Cuny) and Esmeralda (Gina Lollobrigida), 1956 Hunchback of Notre Dame

Like I have said Frollo should have a scene where he bears his soul. Whether it’s directly to Esmeralda or to audience, that is where his drama culminates. Keeping bottle up like this Frollo does adds nothing. The only “soul bearing” this Frollo does is he tell Esmeralda that she is his as he tries to force himself on her.

Frollo (Alain Cuny), 1956 The Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Frollo (Alain Cuny), 1956 The Hunchback of Notre Dame

I feel rather cheated that this version has the right basis for Frollo but fails to make him interesting and engaging. The Jetlag version of Frollo has more interest that this one and that it is really saying something. We really can’t feel any torment or conflict from this Frollo because I think the director doesn’t know how to convey it. So in the end we have a great set-up for Frollo but the execution fails to give the drama that the character is meant to bring to the story.

Next 1956 Article – Phoebus

Jean Danet as Phoebus, 1956 The Hunchback of Notre Dame picture iamge

Jean Danet as Phoebus, 1956 The Hunchback of Notre Dame

 

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7 comments on “Failed Frollo; The 1956 version of Frollo

  1. Bell ringer of notre dame on said:

    Jess, you technically are almost kinda sorta correct. There is a trailer for the movie on YouTube that says notre dame with a French accent, but that is the European edition. The one I was referring to was the one included on the “special aniversery editon” which only included one special feature: that trailer. Thus the mystery of the lackluster movie advertisement has been solved.

  2. Bell ringer of notre dame on said:

    It’s definately said wrong the narrator says notre dame like most people call the foot ball team

  3. Bell-Ringer of Notre Dame on said:

    Is Frollo even a priest in this version? I’ve seen this version multiple times and have found no reference to it. Perhaps in the French version, but not in the english version. In the trailer they just call him THE ALCHEMIST. Speaking of the trailer, it’s pretty wretched. You know you’ve got a bad a bad movie when they can’t pronounce the title of the movie right.” The Hunchback of No-Derr Daiym”

    • jess on said:

      I believe Frollo is supposed to be a priest in the 1956 version he just doesn’t perform any Priest duties. I think the called he an Alchemist in the trailer was because they didn’t want to offend people. The pronunciation in the trailer isn’t wrong, the guy is just trying to say it with a French accent which give his 50′s American way of speaking is a little odd.

  4. whyisthispicturebesidemyface on said:

    Did you see the point where he starts screaming at Esmeralda in the courtroom scene? Or when the innkeeper and the midget guy catch him in the room and he starts raving to them about guilt? His calm silence throughout the rest of the movie makes those points just that much stronger, for me, anyway.

    • jess on said:

      No, I didn’t see the point to him yelling at her at all. Unless he was mad that she still cared for Phoebus after he sort of defended her. But the yelling seemed out of character for him.

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