Moodiness Esmeralda (Maureen O'Hara) 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Moodiness Esmeralda (Maureen O’Hara) 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame

The 1923 version staring Lon Chaney maybe considered the monster movie of the Hunchback pantheon but the 1939 have a far more scary-ish scene.

Ok, it’s not scary but it has a very dark moody tone that make it’s uneasy. As Esmeralda flee from Notre Dame after seeing Quasimodo, he stalks in the dark  narrow streets.  If we had seen Quasimodo before then so we did know what lurked in the night it would have been more scary. Of course that means we would have had the King of Fools scene so yeah that would have happened. But the dark slow-paced unsettling quality  of that makes it feel more scary than anything in the 1923 version. Though Monster Movie doesn’t equal horror but still.

Maureen O'Hara as Esmeralda and Edmond O'Brien as Gringoire  1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Esmeralda and Gringoire getting married

The first time we see the wedding scene play out in a movie version, at least of a Hunchback movie we can actually watch, it was in the 1939 version.

Pretty much this scene is very much like the book though I would point out that Esmeralda and Gringoire never drink from the jug like they do in the 1939 movie and it’s the Duke of Egypt who presides over the affair. Both changes with drinking and Clopin are fine, I rather like the drinking from the pitcher, it’s a nice touch.

They also get a little song thrown in for funs which is also nice. Though instead of going to Esmeralda’s room, in the movie they go to the bridal chamber which makes sense as it was Esmeralda’s first night at the Court of Miracle so she probably didn’t even have a room.

The dialogue is also a little different during their wedding night but it’s on point. Though if anything is quite different it is at the end of the scene where Esmeralda seeks off because Frollo sent soldiers to find her. Boy, does he mobilize his men fast. Though I’m still not sure how she knew to seek away but whatever.

All in all this scene is solid. It captured the tone of the book but kept things a little different. Really I don’t think they could have improved it. Well maybe if they had Djali but they had different goat though I’m still not sure why.

Today’s Fan-art was composed by me using the Heroine Creator on Azalea Dolls

It was inspired by Maureen OHara’s Esmeralda in the 1939 version.

Inspired by Maureen O'Hara's Esmeralda using the Heroine Creator on Azalea  Dolls picturei mage

Inspired by Maureen O’Hara’s Esmeralda using the Heroine Creator on Azalea Dolls

I’m doing these  for all the different version’s Esmeralda.

Frollo from the 1939 version loves anime kitty-cats

Frollo loves Anime Cats picture image

Frollo loves Anime Cats

For those of you who care the cats are from the following anime  Azumanga Daioh, Nyan Koi, Natsume Yuujinchou, School Rumble, Ramna 1/2 Sailor Moon, Nyanpire, Fushigi Yuugi, Sweet Home Chii, Jewel Pet, Nichjou, Hello Kitty, Full Moon wo Sagashite, Pokemon, Sankarea, Trigun, and My Neighbor Totoro.

 

 

 

 

It being October (aka Halloween Happy Fun time) here’s another ghoulish Hunchback offering. Made Pumpken his work,  It’s amazing!  Check it out

 

Charles Laughton Quasimodo Hunchback of Notre dame made by Pumpken

Charles Laughton's Quasimodo Jack-o-Lantern made by Pumpken

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Want your Hunchback artwork to grace this Blog? E-mail me your work and you could see it part of the Fan Art Friday Crave

So I’ve looked at the 1939 version of the Hunchback of Notre Dame from many different angles, and my overall consensus is despite all it’s imperfection it’s still a great adaptation. It captures the tone book and despite it’s departures from the book at least it has respect for the source and doesn’t try to hit the audience over the head with a moral. The film is solid and despite my nitpicking is well done and stands as one the best Hunchback films made to date. Click here to get your very own copy of this Classic Hunchback Adaptation

Quasimodo Cheers Charles Laughton Hunchback of Notre Dame 1939 picture image

Quasimodo Cheers Charles Laughton Hunchback of Notre Dame 1939

 

Now a funny story about an episode during filming; William Dieterle had a thick german accent and one time instead of ordering 200 monks for a scene, 200 monkeys were sent and took over the set, and you can imagine the mess and chaos of 200 monkeys. Makes me wonder what Dieterle asked for and  cats for the office scene.

New Movie next time – Another heavy hitter in the Hunchback world, a film that took cues from the 39 version and not only is it more popular but most  people associate Hunchback with this film, That’s right Disney’s 1996 version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Hunchback of Notre Dame Disney 1996 picture image

Disney The Hunchback of Notre Dame

In no particular order The Novel vs the 1939 Version of the Hunchback of Notre Dame

SPOILERS

Aristotle the Goat 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Aristotle the Miracle Goat 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame

The Goat – Djali is not in every adaptations, so having a goat named Aristotle to fill in for Djali is not a big deal. But here the thing, Djali is a double for Esmeralda and they have a sisterly bond with each other  but Aristotle seems more Gringoire’s goat than Esmeralda’s (the name Aristotle point more to Gringoire’s taste than Esmeralda’s). Also he comes into film out of no nowhere and exits just as quickly, the audience gets no closure on what become of Aristotle.

 

 

Esmeralda Maureen O'Hara 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Esmeralda Maureen O’Hara 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame

Esmeralda Doesn’t Die – It’s rare that Esmerlada actually kicks the bucket in the adaptations and if she does in fact live it’s because she’s paired up with a male, either Gringoire, Phoebus, or on rare occasions Quasimodo. If Esmerlada does die it’s beause like in the Book she leaves Notre Dame, if she stay put she lives, of course there are exceptions to this rule (albet not many) but this is typical order in Notre Dame adaptations. In the 1939 version she paired up with Gringoire.

 

 

Frollo is a crazy cat "lady" Sir Cedric Hardwicke 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Frollo, the a crazy cat “lady?” Sir Cedric Hardwicke 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Frollo Loves Cats – This bit confounds me. Frollo’s office is full of cats. I have no clue where this comes from. In the book he has a “lab’ of sorts because he practices alchemy but it not full of cats. I’ve tried thinking of reasons why these couple seconds of film exist and here they are

 

 

 

 

  1. He trying to cover for his lie he told Esmeralda about that liking animals.
  2. He actually does like animals and this could the reason why he adopted Quasimodo in the first place.
  3. To show untrustworthy/evilness, cats are often used to illustrates with bad guys. But it’s not that necessary to show this, Frollo is a bigoted pervert, I think the audience got he was bad with out the visual aid of cats.
  4. To Show he’s Crazy.

There is no reason why his office should be fill of cats but it is and it not a accident, a movie just doesn’t fill up the sets with cats, there must be a reason or some inside joke.

 

Phoebus (Alan Marshal) 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Phoebus (Alan Marshal) 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame

Phoebus Dies – Most of the time like in the book Phoebus is not killed and no one really cares about that bit of information in the course of the trial but sometimes the accusation is enough. However in the 39 version he does dies and you the viewer are not suppose to care. It’s rare for Phoebus to die but this not the only adaptation where Phoebus dies.

 

 

 

The Esmeralda and Gringoire at the end (Maureen O'Hara, Edmond O'Brien) 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

The Esmeralda and Gringoire, Maureen O’Hara, Edmond O’Brien 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame

Esmeralda and Gringoire are in Love – Esmeralda and Gringoire develop a romantic interrest in each other. In the book they were “friends” Esmeralda like him enough but didn’t think much of him and he preferred Djali. He preferred Djali more that he saved Djali over Esmeralda leaving her in the hands of an insane Frollo while she is being hunted by guards.

 

 

 

Bell Charles Laughton  Maureen O'Hara 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Bells of Notre Dame Charles Laughton Maureen O’Hara 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame

Quasimodo has  a Boy Bell – Kind of on the same lines as Frollo’s cats, it’s just a weird little add in. Quasimodo bell’s in book were ladies but in the 1939 version he has one boy bell “Guillaume” (French for William.) Consider that Quasimodo uses the bell in lieu of ladies, I guess this male bell is when Quasimodo is feeling curious.

(Edit 2104, there is a bell named Guillaume in the novel)

 

 

 

Jehan Frollo (Sir Cedric Hardwicke) 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Jehan Frollo, Sir Cedric Hardwicke 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame

Gringoire (Edmond O'Brien) 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Gringoire, Edmond O’Brien 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame

 

Frollo and Gringoire– In the book Frollo was Gringoire’s teacher, here they don’t even know each.

 

 

 

 

 

Esmeralda looking at the Virgin Mary Maureen O'Hara 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Esmeralda looking at the Virgin Mary, Maureen O’Hara 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame

Esmerlda loves Notre Dame – In the 1939 version Esmeralda really seems to be a fan of the Virgin and here (to my knowledge) is the fist time she prays to her for her people    (it started the trend). In the book she prays to Mary because she is afraid and being in Notre Dame she simply pray to the closet deity but that’s at the end of the book.

 

 

 

 

Bells 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Bells 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame

No Whistle – In the book Quasimodo gives Esmeralda a whistle just in case she ever needs him but in this film he tells her to just ring the bells. In both cases she take him up on his aid, but most adaptations go for the bells over the whistle, one less prop to deal with.

 

 

 

Frollo confesses his feelings to Esmeralda Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Maureen O'Hara 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Frollo confesses his feelings to Esmeralda, Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Maureen O’Hara, 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame

No Jail Scene -Ah, the jail scene, one my favorites, I tend to judge the adapations base off of this scene, well I wish I could because a lot the adaptations don’t have this scene or it’s very water down. The jail scene is when Frollo goes to Esmeralda whose in jail and confesses his confusion and torment for her. It’s a very long scene as Frollo gives a detail  explanation of what his desire did to him and his actions as a result. In the 1939 movie the party scene or what I refer to as the “Tree Scene” fills in for the jail scene. Frollo corners Esmeralda against a tree and tells her that he basically confused, thinks about her all the time and can’t sleep. He doesn’t want people to see her dance and then threatens her. Doesn’t have the same impact as the book but at least it’s something.

 

Trial by ordeal (chance) Esmeralda and Louis Maureen O'Hara, Harry Davenport 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Trial by ordeal (chance) Esmeralda and Louis, Maureen O’Hara, Harry Davenport 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame

The Interruptions during the Trial Scene – The trial puts me over the edge, there’re too many things that happen in the course of it.  Quasimodo admits that he is the murder. I get why he does it; to show his love for her. But it a happens and goes way and is never mention again, seems to be a trend in this film. Then there is the Trial by Ordeal, for me this is even more off putting than Quasimodo’s interruption. The film loves Louis and uses any excuse to give him screen time. I get why he’s doing it; the Archdeacon asked him to but The Trail of Ordeal is more by chance, she blindfolded and must touch a dagger  hers ( the guilty one ) or Louis’ (the innocent one), not much of ordeal and again it doesn’t amount to anything but at least its mention again by Louis so it doesn’t add anything other than Louis.

 

Gringoire's Appeal for Esmeralda 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Gringoire’s Appeal for Esmeralda 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame

The permits, petitions, & Nobles – At the beginning of the the 1939, we learn that Gypsies need a permit to live in Paris, Esmerlada doesn’t have said permit hence she seeks sanctuary towards the beginning of the film. In the book nobels are not a big deal and there are no petitions. In the 1939 version the Nobel are pissed that Esmeralda didn’t die because she killed “one of them’ so they make a petition to end sanctuary and also Gringoire makes an appeal to the king to free Esmeralda. In the book the whole sanctuary debacle is due to a rumor that Frollo made-up to get Esmeralda out of the cathedral and in his power, but the rumor went too far (ie the Court of Miracle attacks Notre Dame to save her and the Louis thinks it to an attack on him and orders for Esmeralda’s death, otherwise he wouldn’t have cared.)

 

Quasimodo (Charles Laughton) alone at the end 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Quasimodo alone at the end, Charles Laughton, 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame

Qusimodo alive at  the end – Sometimes Quasimodo lives, sometimes he dies, and sometimes it’s implied that he dies. If he lives it can be sad because most of the time (two exceptions) he watches Esmeralda go off with another man, if he dies it can mean that in death he gets to be with Esmeralda like in the book, or if he dies then he dies and it’s sad. Quasimodo seldom gets a happy ending. In the 1939 not only does he live but he watches Esmeralda leave with Gringoire and he left alone to lament that he isn’t made of stone. Defiantly one of the more tragic endings for Quasimodo

 

Frollo stares at Esmeralda's chest for 15 seconds (Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Maureen O'Hara) 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Frollo stares at Esmeralda’s chest for 15 seconds, Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Maureen O’Hara, 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame

Frollo rounding up the Gypsy girls – So being a High Juctice, the 1939 version shows Frollo doing Justice-related  tasks; going to meetings and being a judge. The film also shows him exercising some of his power, he rounds up all the Gypsy girls in order to find Esmeralda. This scene is meant to show his obsession for finding her. In the book he didn’t have the power to arrest people, he just stalks her old school style.

 

 

 

Extra's hair 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Noble Ladies 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame

Nobles vs Beggars – The film mentions the clash between beggars and nobles and that the noble are just thieves that plunder countries while beggars engage in petty crimes. This clash is no where in the book and really is just in this one adapations. So basically the movie hates nobles.

 

 

 

Next time conclusions+

So how does the 1939 version of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” hold up against Victor Hugo’s novel? Well first let’s identify some MAJOR differences.

Jehan Frollo 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame Sir Cedric Hardwicke picture image

Jehan Frollo, Sir Cedric Hardwicke, 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame Sir Cedric Hardwicke

The First difference is Frollo. Hugo’s Frollo has been spilt into two characters. This was not the first film and certainly not the last film to do this, but to my knowledge  it was the first to make him a High Justice and the last to separate him between brothers. If you haven’t read the book, Frollo has a younger brother name Jehan. Jehan is quite licentious while Claude, the older Archdeacon, is the lusty priest. So splitting the Frollo character into brothers isn’t a stretch. The reason why Frollo is spilt into the  pious brother and lusty bad younger brother is the same reason why Quasimodo is crowned the “King of Fools” and not the “Pope of Fools”; The Hays Movie Code. The Movie Code (Censorship)  that was in affect back in the 30s didn’t allow the church to look bad in any fashion (among other things).  I give the film some credit, it tries to remind the viewer that Frollo should be a priest, or at least he wants to be a priest.

ESMERALDA: Who are you? You’re not a priest, and yet you look like one.                          FROLLO: I am what I wish to be.

Esmeralda and Frollo (Maureen O'Hara and Sir Cedric Hardwicke) 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Esmeralda and Frollo, Maureen O'Hara and Sir Cedric Hardwicke, 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame

Though him being a priest wanna-be doesn’t make me believe in his torment of “wanting” Esmeralda. Fortunately he doesn’t seem to combat his emotions, he goes from “I want you” to “you must die” in record time and doesn’t think twice. Whereas Hugo’s Frollo runs the gambit of emotions for Esmeralda. Plus it’s not important that he is in deep torment because the film is not really concerned with Frollo, Frollo is a necessary character because he is the catalyst for the story. Without Frollo, the book would have ended with Feast of Fools, the adaptations need him as a character but the lengths of his development are left to film. The ‘39’ Frollo gets some development but not enough. Instead characters that are lesser in significance get push to the forefront due to the next major difference of the movie.

 

Printing Press 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Printing Press 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame

The next big difference is modernity and the conflict between old vs new. The book did  have a rather long chapter/essay called “This will Destroy that”(translations may vary) which was about how books will destroy the church and architecture. So instead of the cathedral being the conduit to teach the masses the stories and the history of the christendom, books would take over that role. But the film pushes this way too far and distracts from the main plot, hell the film opens with a scene that rehashes “This will destroy that” just with a positive spin.  Also because the film takes a modernity good-old fashion bad,  Gringoire, Clopin, and King Louis are made into more prominent characters despite being lesser characters in book especially Louis, whose hardly a character at all.

Esmeralda Smiling, Maureen O'Hara 1939 HUnchback of Notre Dame  picture image

Esmeralda Smiling, Maureen O'Hara 1939 HUnchback of Notre Dame

But these are not the only character that are tweaked. Esmeralda is very different than in the book. In the book she is a naive, innocent, flighty, and pone to giving into whims. She also had a very different back story, a back story that seldom gets into adaptations. The only part of her backstory that can be compared to the book is that she came to Paris on the  Feast of Fools in the movie, and in the book she had been in Paris a for over a year and was beloved amongst the people of Paris. In the movie, her motivation is for her people and she has a strong sense of empathy instead of love of dancing. It is interesting to note that when Esmeralda has these characteristic, Frollo is a High Justice who seems to hold more power than the king (in the 39 movie, he rounds up all the Gypsy girls in the Court of Miracles and the Disney he burns all of Paris). I suppose the caring, empathic Esmeralda is a counterpoint to the   powerful, racist Frollo, but it’s a striking difference to her character in the book where  she is a naive, simple, winsome child, who is unaware of her own charms. The 1939 characterization of Esmeralda she isn’t naive and she does at least in the 39 version, use  girlish charms to get Louis to help her. She’s not above turning on the charms to get what she wants but doesn’t do it with Frollo, perhaps she didn’t know Frollo was in a position that could have help her. At least in the book she was afraid of him, hence she didn’t want to have anything to with him. In the 1939 version she doesn’t seem to exhibit any strong feelings towards, she neither likes him nor hates him, but she strikes an accord with him about animals. So I guess she could have turned up the feminine charms towards Frollo had he not been a bigoted pervert.  The main reason why Esmeralda is never depicted as she is in the book, is she would come off unlikable, (a shallow, simple, young girl) so the film always has to tweak her character to make her likable. If she cozen up to Frollo, the villain, she wouldn’t have been as likable and has the only main female character, she has to likable.

more book vs movie next time

So let’s talk about Lighting. Besides the functional side of lighting (i.e. lighting the sets so you can see the sets and actors) there is mood lighting and this is what I’m going to touch on because it’s more fun.

For the most part the movie is pretty tame in the lighting department despite William Dieterle being  part the of German Expressionism movement but  there is great example of chiaroscuro. Chiaroscuro  (Italian for light and dark) utilizes  the contrast between light and dark  for  pure dramatic effect.  During the scene where Frollo confesses his confused love/lust for Esmeralda. As he pins her against a tree his face is fully illuminated while the back ground is let darker; text-book Chiaroscuro.

Example of Chiaroscuro Frollo Sir Cedric Hardwicke 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame  picture image

Example of Chiaroscuro

Example of Soft Lighting Esmeralda Maureen O'Hara 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame  picture image

Example of Soft Lighting

Example of Hard Lighting Frollo Sir Cedric Hardwicke 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame  picture image

Example of Hard Lighting

Moodiness Esmeralda Maureen O'Hara 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Moodiness

 

Clopin King of Beggars Thomas Mitchell 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Example Bottom Lighting

 

There is a moodiness to certain scenes and sometimes characters would get   lighting treatment (i.e softening, harding, bottom lighting or chiaroscuro)  but I would say that at the time of the film’s release the lighting came off more dramatic. After all Dieterle was part of the German Expressionism movement which was the predecessor to Film Noire ( which by it’s very nature is moody) so there is mood but for a modern viewer the dramatic isn’t as striking except in the confession scene, that was a slap in the face with lighting.

See ya next time – It’s time for Book vs the 1939 version 

 

If you didn’t know any better, you might think that the 1939 version of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” was filmed on location, I know that’s what I thought at first but that is not the case.

This film was  shot completely on set at the RKO ranch in the San Fernando Valley. The sets were designed after a 400 year old wood carving of Paris.  The sets are one of the strongest visual aspects of this movie. They transport the viewer to 15th century Paris, with the narrow streets, Notre Dame in all its’ glory, with its’ accurate nave and it’s raised platform complete with stairs, Both the raised platform and the stairs are no longer a part of the actual Notre Dame due to time and erosion. Erosion and structural changes to Notre Dame are some of the reasons why films shouldn’t take too much lead from Notre dame in it’s modern state if their doing a period piece (I’m looking at you here Disney).

Notre Dame 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Notre Dame

Front Notre Dame 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Front of Notre Dame

Facade of Notre Dame 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Facade of Notre Dame

Nave of Notre dame 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Nave of Notre dame

15th century Parisian Street 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

15th century Parisian Street

Another view of 15th century Parisian Street 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Another view of 15th century Parisian Street

Crowd scene 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Crowd scene

 

 

All the attention to the details of the sets are one of the strongest aspects of the film and this helps  keep the film in  classic movie nostalgia.

Next time: Lighting!