The 1939 version The Hunchback of Notre Dame opens with text about the current times and how Great Louis IX but there is superstition /prejudice that wants to “crush the adventurous spirit of man”. From the get go the film tells us that in addition to Qusiamodo being a prominent character,  Pierre Gringoire  and King Louis XI are very important characters as they represent modernity while Frollo is provides the superstition /prejudice and Esmeralda works as something for the character to fight for or agianst. Gringoire is also who the author (in this case Frank) identified with which is why he get more scene time and importance in film’s events.

The over-all theme of the film is the changing world and this old vs new but the overt undertones are taken from political environment of the late 30’s, (i.e the opinion of the Gypsies and their need for city permits in late 15th century Paris)

King Louis XI  Harry Davenport 1939 Hunchback of Notre dame picture image

King Louis XI ( Harry Davenport)

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

Jehan Frollo (Sir Cedric Hardwicke)

Despite the add-ons to the over-all story  the plot is the same. King Louis (Harry Davenport) Jehan Frollo (Sir Cedric Hardwicke) Chief Justice, are a sort of odd couple.

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

Esmeralda (Maureen O'Hara)

They are forever talking of this old vs new, Louis loves it and Frollo hates it and in the opening scene they talk of the new invention, a printing press. Frollo wants to destroy it and Louis considers it a miracle. Frollo then vows he will protect France from the press as he protect it from witches, sorcerers and Gypsies. At that moment,  Esmeralda a young Gypsy (Maureen O’Hara) arrives in Paris so that she may speak to the king about the blight of her people.

She arrives during the Feast of Fools. At the feast a young idealist poet Pierre Gringoire (Edmond O’Brien) is performing a play that meets with harsh criticism.

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

Gringoire (Edmond O'Brien)

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

Phoebus (Alan Marshal)

In addition to the general merriment, the highlight of the festival is the crowning of the King of Fools, which is reserved for the ugliest face in Paris.

Esmeralda spots an eye staring  maureen o'hara 1939 Hunchback of Notre dame

Esmeralda spots an eye staring

Quasimodo (Charles Laughton) 1939 Hunchback of Notre dame picture image

Quasimodo (Charles Laughton)

Quasimodo King of Fools  charles laughton  1939 Hunchback of Notre dame picture image

Quasimodo King of Fools

 

 

 

 

 

 

As Esmeralda dances she sees Quasimodo (Charles Laughton) the misshapen hunchback of Notre Dame staring at her, he is pulled out of hiding and  is crowned King of Fools. The Feast ends when Frollo, Quasimodo’s care taker, forces him back to Notre Dame.  Esmeralda is then forced to take refuge in Notre Dame because she Gypsy with out documentation.

 

Esmeralda looking at the Virgin Mary maureen o'hara 1939 Hunchback of Notre dame picture image

Esmeralda looking at the Virgin Mary

Esmeralda and Frollo in Notre Dame Maureen O'hara Sir cedric hardwicke 1939 Hunchback of Notre dame picture image

Esmeralda and Frollo in Notre Dame

Frollo stares Esmeralda's breasts for 15 seconds Maureen O'hara Sir cedric hardwicke 1939 Hunchback of Notre dame picture image

Frollo stares for 15 seconds

 

 

 

 

 

 

She then encounters Frollo who find her while he is visiting his brother Claude (Walter Hampden) the Arch-Deacon of Notre dame. Frollo expresses  his  superstition & prejudice against the Gyspies and demand she leaves.  He also demonstrates also a growing fascination with her, After seeing the good in Frollo (he likes animals, especially cats).

Frollo is a crazy cat "lady" Sir cedric hardwicke 1939 Hunchback of Notre dame picture image

Frollo is a crazy cat "lady"

She asks Mary to speak to the King, Louis as it happens in Notre Dame and agrees to review her request about her people.  Frollo takes Esmeralda to the bell tower because she now lives in sanctuary but flees from Notre Dame because Quasimodo frightened. She is pursued by Quasimodo while Frollo hides in the shadows, she is rescued by Gringoire and Phoebus. She is immediately smitten with Phoebus.


Clopin King of Beggars (Thomas Mitchell) 1939 Hunchback of Notre dame picture image

Clopin King of Beggars (Thomas Mitchell)

Gringoire balancing a chair in his mouth Edmond O'brein 1939 Hunchback of Notre dame picture image

Gringoire learns a life skill

Gringoire then stumbles into the Court of Miracles and after almost being  hanged by Clopin, (Thomas Mitchell)

 

 

 

Just then all the Gypsy girls are arrested because of Frollo obsession with Esmeralda but just as the guards descend on the Court, Esmeralda sneaks out to see her people and tell them about the King.

Quasimodo on the Pillory chalres laughton 1939 Hunchback of Notre dame picture image

Quasimodo on the Pillory

Esmeralda gives Quasimodo a drop of water charles Laughton Maureen O'hara 1939 Hunchback of Notre dame picture image

A drop of water

Quasimodo is sentenced to 50 lashes and public disgrace. Gringoire tries to help but  can’t do anything and as Quasimodo begs for water Esmeralda gives him some water and a little pity. After that Quasimodo falls in love with her.

 

Frollo confesses to Esmeralda Sir cedric hardwicke Maureen O'hara 1939 Hunchback of Notre dame picture image

Frollo confesses to Esmeralda

Phoebus and Esmeralda get comfortable  Maureen O'hara Alan Marshal  1939 Hunchback of Notre dame picture image

Phoebus and Esmeralda get comfortable

Claude can't be brothers with a murder  Sir Cedric Hardwick Walter Hampden 1939 Hunchback of Notre dame  picture image

Claude can't be brothers with a murder

 

 

 

 

 

 

During a party where Gringoire and Esmeralda are performing, Frollo confesses his obsession to her. She runs off  and finds Phoebus, who is later murder while with Esmeralda. Frollo confesses to the murder to his brother but Claude refuses to help him.

 

Esmeralda and Aristotle share a moment   maureen O'hara  1939 Hunchback of Notre dame  picture image

Esmeralda and Aristotle share a moment

Quasimodo confesses to the murder charles laughton 1939 Hunchback of Notre dame  picture image

Quasimodo confesses to the murder

Frollo watches from a spy hole Sir cedric hardwicke 1939 Hunchback of Notre dame  picture image

Frollo watches from a spy hole

Frollo-vision of Esmeralda being tortured Maureen O'hara 1939 Hunchback of Notre dame  picture image

Esmeralda being tortured

Esmeralda is on trial along side her goat, Gringoire tries to make the court see common sense and Quasimodo confesses to the murder. However she is tortured and despite her innocence she confesses and is sentenced to death. Louis tries to intervene on behalf of Claude but he can’t do much.

Quasimodo proclaiming  SANCTUARY for Esmeralda Charles Laughton  Maureen O'hara  1939 Hunchback of Notre dame  picture image

SANCTUARY!!!!!

 

 

On the day her execution Quasimodo saves her and claim sanctuary.

 

 

Beggars are ready for the attack  1939 Hunchback of Notre dame  picture image

Beggars are ready for the attack

Enraged, the nobles try remove sanctuary as Esmeralda has killed “one of them”. Clopin and Gringoire debate on the best method of saving her; words or force. Both methods are tried. Louis reads Gringoire pamphet while Clopin attack Notre dame. As  Clopin attacks Notre Dame Louis discover that Frollo is the real murder.  Quasimodo defends Notre Dame and is sucessful, even if the people attacking were trying to protect Esmeralda.

 

Quaismodo throws Frollo out the window  1939 Hunchback of Notre dame  picture image

Quaismodo throws Frollo out the window

 

At his moment of  victory, he finds Frollo pursuing  Esmeralda and  Quasimodo throws Frollo from the cathedral.

 

 

 

 

Esmeralda and Gringoire leave Notre Dame maureen O'hara Edmond O'brein  1939 Hunchback of Notre dame  picture image

Esmeralda and Gringoire leaving together

 

Esmeralda is then pardon and the Gypsies are free to live in France. As Esmeralda and Gringoire go off together while Quasimodo ask why he wasn’t made of stone.

 

 

 

Quasimodo alone at the end  Charles Laughton  1939 Hunchback of Notre dame  picture image

Quasimodo alone at the end

 

 

 

 

 

That the plot of 1939 version of Hunchback of Notre Dame, next time plot review

Happy January 6 , this is the date that the novel begins, So I’ll start off by saying Happy Feast of Fools, (I know I’m Dork)

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

Quasimodo Charles Laughton, 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame

 

 

The first on the radar is the 1939 version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame.  Why start with the 1939 version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame? It’s by no means the oldest or even the most well known. The oldest adaptation is from 1836 and the most well known is the Disney version. Which is exactly why I’m starting with the 1939 version. In classic Disney fashion, Disney took cues from this version. For instance if you have read the book but for whatever reason you have only seen the Disney version, you might wonder why is Frollo a Judge? Or why Esmeralda is even in Notre Dame midway the flick? The 1939 version is the first to make Frollo a Judge (to my knowledge) and it is the first in the Notre Dame  collection to have Esmeralda enter Notre Dame for either a prayer, safety, or both. (though in 1923 version, Esmeralda enters Notre dame to meet with Phoebus).

The film is well regarded as a fine movie with great performances especially by Charles Laughton as Quasimodo or as the Hunchback as he is credited. It garnered two academy awards nominations for Best Original Music Score and Best Sound  and given that 1939 was the year of Gone with the Wind, The Wizard of OZ, and other great movies this is nothing to sneeze at.

The film was produced by RKO Radio Pictures and was made as remake for the 1923 version starting Lon Chaney. As far the bare bone of the original plot ala Victor Hugo and the separation of Frollo’s characters by making the younger brother Jehan take on the Lustfulness and the elder Claude as the pious archdeacon of Notre Dame, there is very little similarity between the 1923 and 1939 version. Though the sets look very similar, expect the 1939 version was also meant to one up the 1923 version in lavishness and expansiveness of the mise-en-scene.

For The Classic Version of Hunchback, Click Here

Next time we’ll dive into the plot of 1939 version.

Hello and Welcome to the Hunchblog of Notre Dame.

This Blog is dedicated to reviewing and analyzing the different  adaptations of Victor’s Hugo novel Notre Dame de Paris aka The Hunchback of Notre Dame.  There are dozens of retelling of the novel ranging from movies, cartoons, musicals, ballets, and operas. Some are considered masterpieces and some are just pain awful. Some are vastly popular and beloved and even more are unknown.

So why review the various adaptations of this particular novel?  It’s a story that is known throughout the world but at the same time it’s misunderstood. This is mainly because the focus has shifted from “Our Lady of Paris”(Esmeralda) to Quasimodo as the main (titular) character. Of course not all the versions put Quasimodo as the main character but more than enough have. Is it a bad thing not to follow the novel faithfully?  Should failure to follow the novel at least somewhat means that the version be diminish in the quality of the version? I would say no, even if I’m somewhat of purist on following the source material. But so for the sake of this blog, I’m going to review the adaptation on their own merits and then look at the version against the novel.

So stay tuned ^__^

First version up the 1939 version