In light of the way the 2016 Oscars acting award nominations went and with the general whitewashing of roles in mainstream big budget Hollywood movies, Esmeralda is an interesting role to discuss as her book self and her film presence are at weird odds.

Patsy Ruth Miller as Esmeralda Hunchback chaney version 1923 picture image

Patsy Ruth Miller as Esmeralda

In the book Esmeralda is presented as a Romani, and without getting it into too much, the Romani people are Ethnically different from the rest of Europe specifically France.  However Esmeralda’s backstory in the novel is that she was born Agnes to a French woman and raised by the Romani. This backstory is really only presented in two movies (three if you think the Dingo version count), those versions are the 1923 version and the 1999 Parody version albeit that version flips things around whereas she is born Esmeralda to Cubans and raised as Agnes by mean French people.

Lesley-Anne Down as Esmeralda, 1982 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Lesley-Anne Down as Esmeralda, 1982 Hunchback of Notre Dame

Esmeralda in most movie versions of Hunchback is depicted as a full Romani, though the 1982 version  there was a throw away line that questioned her background but it went no where, so it hardly matters.

Gina Lollobrigida as Esmeralda, 1956 Hunchback of Notre Dame, picture image

Gina Lollobrigida as Esmeralda, 1956 Hunchback of Notre Dame

This brings us back to the topic, as Hollywood whitewashes many roles it interesting to note that in Esmeralda’s case they take role of girl who despite having dark hair and eyes  with tanned skin is for all accounts a white girl and instead makes the role one for a very specially ethnic minority and yet casts mostly white women. So far in movie versions only Gina Lollobrigida and Salma Hayek have looked the way the film versions theoretically want to depict the character.

 

Maureen O'Hara as Esmeralda

Maureen O’Hara as Esmeralda

While in my own naive  little world I think casting should go to right person for the right part but it’s not that simple. A lot of roles are specific to someone’s looks and background. Hollywood however does of course forget that or ignores it and has a history of awarding parts that should go to people of minorities to white actors. Like the casting  of Emma Stone in Aloha or Rooney Mara in  Peter Pan or pretty much everyone in The Last Airbender or Scarlet Johansson as Major Motoko Kusanagi in the upcoming Ghost in the Shell movie, heck Lucy was a Akira knock-off… I digress. The list of whitewashing practices in Hollywood is long.

And as this pertain to the Oscars, actors who fall into minority seldom get nominations and seldom win. Just for example Asian actors which Indian actors fall into, Only two Actors won the Academy Award for Best Actor, Yul Brynner (1956) and Ben Kingsley (1982). Kingsley also  got a nominations in 2003. For Actress only Merle Oberon got a best actress nomination in 1935 and no one else since. For Best Supporting Actor, only Haing S Ngor has won in 1984  and only five others have been nominated, Sessue Hayakawa (1957), Mako (1966), Pat Morita (1984), Ben Kingsley (1991) and Ken Watanabe (2003). Oddly the same goes for Best Supporting Actoress with only one winner and five others nominated. The only Asian winner was Miyoshi Umeki in 1957. The five who were nominated were Meg Tilly (1985), Jennifer Tilly (1994), Shohreh Aghdashloo (2003), Rinko Kikuchi (2006) and Hailee Steinfeld (2010).

Salma Hayek as Esmeralda, 1997 Hunchback of Notre Dame, picture image

Salma Hayek as Esmeralda, 1997 Hunchback of Notre Dame

So how does this apply to Esmeralda? The Hunchback of Notre Dame as I have said before, could be one those movies made specifically to win  awards. The role of Esmeralda could be deepen which has been done in the past like in 1939 version or even the Disney version. It could be made into one those Oscar bait roles with relative ease. If that did happen given the state of Hollywood I would prefer to see an Actress who fits into the Romani look more than being a purist to the book. Either an Indian actress or Hispanic actress could fit nicely, though ideally, a young Romani actress would be ideal.

Melanie Thierry as Esmeralda

Melanie Thierry as Esmeralda

Though given Hollywood’s warped sense of itself they probably would make Esmeralda a Romani, as  is the traditional method to her character and cast a popular blonde actress.

Is there an actress you would like see play Esmeralda?

 

It’s October, Halloween Time! I maintain that Esmeralda is a great costume for halloween especially the Disney version, you can go here to get tips for Disney Esmeralda costumes.  Gyspy Fortune teller Costumes are also great, go here to see awesome options Fortune telling costumes. And of course you could also go for a ghloulish undead Esmeralda go here for tips for that.

Of course, there are two other movie Esmeralda costumes that would be fun choices for Halloween, the 1956 and the 1923 version. Both are simple and you can pretty much buy what you need or go to your closet.

Gina Lollobrigida as Esmeralda, 1956 Hunchback of Notre Dame , picture image

Gina Lollobrigida as Esmeralda, 1956 Hunchback of Notre Dame

The 1956 costume is bold and striking. It reads Gypsy or at least dancer in  a modern yet classic way. You will need a basic red short sleeve shirt, long red skirt, a leather belt with gold details, a dagger, and coin earring and bracelet. Pretty simple yet sexy. You can add the veil and a hip scarf if you want.

Here are some options for the 1956 costume that you can buy on amazon.

 

Red Shirt for 1956 Esmeralda costume picture image

Red Shirt for the 1956 Esmeralda

Simple Red Shirt
This shirt while simple is the right cut for the 1956 costume. The belt  will help create the shape of the costume.

 

 

 

 

Red Skirt  for 1956 Esmeralda picture image

Red Skirt for the 1956 Esmeralda

Red Skirt

This skirt would be a good option has it has a nice jagged hemline which look like the 56 version and it moves well.

Also comes in purple for Disney version.

 

 

Red Skirt  for 1956 Esmeralda picture image

Red Skirt for the 1956 Esmeralda

Red Satin Skirt
This skirt is also a very  good option. It’s simpler but it still lovely.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hip Scarf for 1956 Esmeralda picture image

Hip Scarf for  the 1956 Esmeralda

Hip Scarf
You can add a belly dancing hip scarf to make it fun but you don’t have too.

 

 

 

 

Leather Belt for 1956 Esmeralda

Leather Belt for the 1956 Esmeralda

Brown & Gold Belt
A brown belt should do the trick but a brown belt with some gold details would be perfect. This is a great option if you don’t have something in your closet already, and you can wear it for every day wear.

 

 

 

 

Coin bracelet for 1956 Esmerald

Coin bracelet for the 1956 Esmeralda

Coin Bracelet

The 1956 Esmeralda wears a lot of coin bracelet but one will be enough. You don’t have to use coin jewelry, any gold bracelet should be fine.

 

 

 

Coin earrings for 1956 Esmeralda picture image

Coin earrings for 1956 Esmeralda

Hoops with Coin Dangles

Much like the bracelet if you can get coin hoops that would the best but just plain gold hoops would work well.

 

 

 

 

Just add a little dagger and you’re set! Perfect 1956 Esmeralda

Patsy Ruth Miller as Esmeralda 1923 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Patsy Ruth Miller as Esmeralda 1923 Hunchback of Notre Dame

The 1923 verison is an 1920 take on Gyspy costumes which makes it a kind of whimsical and on a fashion trend since with Downton Abbey and the 2013 The Great Gatsby  movie, the 1920’s are an in style. The 1923 version is a little tricker than 1956 to buy for but you can get the idea. Since the 1923 version is black and white you can pick any colors you want but one poster for the movie depicted her costume as yellow and purple, so that is what I would suggest.

All you need is a short sleeve loose white blouse, a yellow skirt that hits roughly below the knees but above the ankles, a vest or bolero and hip scarf and a long beaded necklace.

Here are some options for the 1923 costume that you can buy on amazon.

 

White blouse the 1923 Esmeralda picture image

White blouse for the 1923 Esmeralda

Cotton Semi-Sheer Short Sleeve Blouse

This blouse is a great shape for the 1923 costume. The details are also very nice.

 

 

 

White blouse the 1923 Esmeralda picture image

White blouse the 1923 Esmeralda

White Loose-fitting Blouse

This blouse is more simple but it would still be a good choice for the 1923 Esmeralda.   It’s also made from bamboo.

 

 

 

 

Yellow Skirt the 1923 Esmeralda picture image

Yellow Skirt for the 1923 Esmeralda

Yellow Embroidered Gypsy Skirt

This Yellow Skirt is cute and shorter. Its details are very bohemian.

 

 

 

 

 

Yellow Skirt the 1923 Esmeralda picture image

Yellow Skirt for the 1923 Esmeralda

Yellow Tiered Ribbon Gypsy Boho Skirt

This Yellow Skirt is longer than the other but it just as boho.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bolero for the 1923 Esmeralda picture image

Bolero for the 1923 Esmeralda

Yellow Knitted Bolero

The 1923 Esmeralda wears a little vest but you can get a yellow bolero. If you wish you can cut off the sleeves or leave them on if you want.  This one is made from knit so it would be harder to remove the sleeves but the details of the knitting look nice and would match the bohemian style of the costume.

 

 

Bolero for the 1923 Esmeralda picture image

Bolero for the 1923 Esmeralda

Yellow Bolero

With this  Bolero it would be easier to remove the sleeves if you want a more accurate version of the 1923 costume.

 

 

 

Purple Hip Scarf for the 1923 Esmeralda picture image

Purple Hip Scarf for the 1923 Esmeralda

Purple Coin Hip Scarf

The coin hip scarf isn’t 100% to the hip scarf she wears but it’s fun.

 

 

 

 

Purple Bead Necklace for the 1923 Esmeralda picture image

Purple Bead Necklace for the 1923 Esmeralda

Purple Necklace

The 1923 Esmeralda wears lots of long necklaces so you can fun layering what ever you have. But I would recommend trying to get some yellow and purple in there in you opt for that color scheme.

 

 

 

Don’t forget your tambourine

 

Also you can also get this to be a super accurate Esmeralda no matter the version

 Esmeralda Jewelry Set picture image

Esmeralda Jewelry Set

 

 

Esmeralda Jewelry Set

 

 

Hunchback of Notre Dame 1923 Lon Chaney picture image

Hunchback of Notre Dame 1923 Lon Chaney

Is the highly regarded 1923 version of the Hunchback of Notre Dame a good version and a good movie? I think it’s an admirable version but I don’t think it’s a  good movie.

 

Quasimodo (Lon Chaney), Esmeralda (Patsy Ruth Miller) and Gudule (Gladya Brockwell) Hunchback of Notre Dame 1923 picture image

Quasimodo (Lon Chaney), Esmeralda (Patsy Ruth Miller) and Gudule (Gladya Brockwell) Hunchback of Notre Dame 1923

It’s an admirable version because it’s one of the few versions where we see a somewhat moody Quasimodo. Quasimodo has a edge to him in the book and this version showcases that aspect. It also has an Esmeralda who is winsome and innocent. She is  not really concerned for blight of the gyspy  but she does has a does have a concern for social justice but not to the same extent that the Disney version or the 1939 version have.  But despite her more care-free attitude she is still likable. I also appreciate that they tried to do something with Esmeralda’s mother even if it was very little.   I also enjoy the Clopin in this version.

 

Jehan Frollo (Brandon Hurst) Hunchback of Notre Dame 1923 picture image

Jehan Frollo (Brandon Hurst) Hunchback of Notre Dame 1923

 

I don’t find it a great version because the characters lack any depth or complexity they  had in the book especially with depiction of Frollo. Frollo in the book is fueled by sexual impulse but he  had had an internal conflict that made him interesting.  This Frollo, who  is more charateristically Jehan than Claude with the Esmeralda obsession tacked on, is just a old pervert who lacks any internal struggle. Since Frollo’s obession is core of story and fuels the plot  having Frollo who not interesting makes the story less interesting.

 

Esmeralda Rejecting Phoebus Hunchback of Notre Dame Patsy Ruth Miller 1923 picture Image

Esmeralda Rejecting Phoebus Hunchback of Notre Dame Patsy Ruth Miller 1923

So because the story lacks interest the film suffers. There is nothing to really to pull the viewer into the world and since the characters lack complexity and depth there is nothing to make us really care about the characters. But what really kills this movie is the pacing. The pacing of this movie is terrible, it’s slow and very boring. It just lacks any substance that the book has. I found watching this movie a chore.

 

Notre Dame de Paris set from the 1923 version of Hunchback picture image

Notre Dame de Paris Set from the 1923 version of Hunchback

This movie gets a pass for being good for a few reasons. Number one it launched Lon Chaney’s career as one of the most famous actors of the silent era. Number two the production values. The production was well done. Number three, the movie was a big deal in 1923. Back in the 20’s movies were created quickly and were made to make a quick buck. The 1923 version was created with care and it did pave the for bigger movies.  But despite these reasons it’s not a very enjoyable to sit through.

 

Patsy Ruth Miller as Esmeralda 1923 Hunchback of Notre Dame

Patsy Ruth Miller as Esmeralda 1923 Hunchback of Notre Dame

Next -Conclusion

Patsy Ruth Miller as Esmeralda 1923 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Patsy Ruth Miller as Esmeralda 1923 Hunchback of Notre Dame

Besides Quaismodo’s make-up and Lon Chaney is there anything else that this movie has going for it? Yes, yes there is, the Sets. The sets are well done.

Notre Dame de Paris set from the 1923 version of Hunchback picture image

Notre Dame de Paris Set from the 1923 version of Hunchback

The sets for the 1923 version of the Hunchback were built on the back-lot of universal. To create the cathedral they built the set up to the row of statues. The upper portions of Notre Dame in the long shots were the results of a floating miniature. A floating miniature means that they would hang the model in front on the camera to force the miniature to match up with the set to look like a whole. It’s a trick of the camera that isn’t used to much these days.  But the result look seamless.

 

A Matte Painting used 1923 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

A Matte Painting used 1923 Hunchback of Notre Dame

The production also used age old film tricks like matte painting to give the sets more depth. In the picture above, everything beyond the chest is a painting

Group cluster together 1923 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture imageg

Group cluster together

Also strategic positioning of extras helped to give the sets more scale.

 

The Notre Dame Set in the Chaney version of the Phantom of the Opera picture image

The Notre Dame Set in the Chaney version of the Phantom of the Opera

 

According to the DVD commentary, the Notre Dame set was used at the end of Chaney’s Phantom of the Opera. Notice how you don’t seen the upper portion of the church that was filled in bu the floating miniature

 

Quasimodo (Lon Chaney), Esmeralda (Patsy Ruth Miller) and Gudule (Gladya Brockwell) Hunchback of Notre Dame 1923 picture image

Quasimodo (Lon Chaney), Esmeralda (Patsy Ruth Miller) and Gudule (Gladya Brockwell) Hunchback of Notre Dame 1923

 

So the set are great but  does that couple by Chaney, his make-up and one of my favorite Esmerladas make this a Good movie?

Find out Next time

Patsy Ruth Miller as Esmeralda 1923 Hunchback of Notre Dame

Patsy Ruth Miller as Esmeralda 1923 Hunchback of Notre Dame

Patsy Ruth Miller as Esmeralda with Eulalie Jenson as Marie 1923 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Patsy Ruth Miller as Esmeralda with Eulalie Jenson as Marie 1923 Hunchback of Notre Dame

The Costumes in the 1923 version of Hunchback are for the most part good. They look appropriate to fashions of the late middle ages. However with the exceptions of Chaney’s make-up for Quaimodo the costumes are not spectacular . There is no one costume that stands out and is memorable. They are just nice and appropriate to both the characters and the times. However there are two costumes I would like to discuss in addition to Chaney’s make-up since Chaney is the main selling point of the film.

 

Lon Chaney as Quasimodo 1923 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Lon Chaney as Quasimodo 1923 Hunchback of Notre Dame

 

Lon Chaney was a genius with make-up. It’s not wonder that he has been dubbed the “Man of a Thousand Faces.” His most memorable transformations of his own face in his film career were the Phantom and Quasimodo.

For Quasimodo, Chaney looked at illustrations of by Hugo to get an accurate look. For his cheeks Chaney used cotton and colodium. Colodium is a skin sealer. What he would do it paint spirit gum, which is an adhesive, apply a wad of cotton to it and then cover it with colodium. The process was repeated to build up the cheeks to the desire look. This also allowed Chaney to reuse the cheeks for a few day with minimal effort. For the hunch he wore a 15-20 pound plaster hump. The hump was held in place by a leather harness that attract at the waist. It also had straps at the shoulders that attached to the belt to keep Chaney in a hunch position.

He also wore a rubber suit over the harness in the pillory scene. He covered it with hair to give Quasimodo an animal-like look. Early in the film he had hair on his knuckles but he did away with that as the filming went one. Chaney also employed false teeth and a wig.

Lon Chaney as Quasimodo 1923 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Lon Chaney as Quasimodo 1923 Hunchback of Notre Dame

 

I don’t think the Quasimodo’s look has aged as well as  the Phantom’s make-up but Chaney did help solidify movie make-up and set a precedent for the look of future Quasimodos so I do give kudos to the make-up in this version.

Patsy Ruth Miller as Esmeralda 1923 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Patsy Ruth Miller as Esmeralda 1923 Hunchback of Notre Dame

So there are a few  costumes I want to discuss, three of Esmeralda’s and  Marie’s costumes. Esmeralda has four costume changes but I want to look at three, her normal outfit, prison dress and her robe. The Costumes were  supervised by Gordon Magee, that they only costume credit I found.

Patsy Ruth Miller as Esmeralda 1923 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Patsy Ruth Miller as Esmeralda 1923 Hunchback of Notre Dame

Esmeralda’s normal gypsy costume is based on a 1891 illustration. You can see it in the vest, short sleeves, the shoes and the mid calf hem line. While I like this costume as a whole it is inaccurate to the Romani convention that ankles should not be expose but their is another force at work in Esmeralda’s costume; the 1920’s.

Esmeralda’s costume has a more shapeless silhouette, long beaded necklaces and the sleeves look straighter and look more like modern t-shirt.

Patsy Ruth Miller as Esmeralda 1923 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Patsy Ruth Miller as Esmeralda 1923 Hunchback of Notre Dame

 

However Esmeralda’s prison dress and her robe look more like a product of the 20’s. Her prison dress has a shapeless silhouette and the way it cinches in at the waist and puffs over is very 20s. Plus the short hemline. Hemlines that hit mid-calf was the style in 1923 for hem.

Patsy Ruth Miller as Esmeralda 1923 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Patsy Ruth Miller as Esmeralda 1923 Hunchback of Notre Dame

However the robe is the worse offender of Esmeralda’s costumes. In a deleted scene from the movie, Quasimodo trades candles for clothing for Esmeralda to wear. He gets a robe or a “dressing gown” that has a fur trim and looks to be made of velvet with a satin belt.

Number 1; robes didn’t not exist at this time in Europe.. Robe/dressing gown came in to fashion in the 18th century  because orientism was fashionable. Number 2; given the materials, fur, satin and velvet, it’s doubtful that a mere chest of candles could be traded for a garment made from these materials. Beside those  issues, the robe features  the signature 1923 hemline and the shoes. The shoes that Esmeralda wears with the robe are flats with a flower detail. Clearly not shoes wore in the middle ages.

 

Eulalie Jenson as Marie 1923 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Eulalie Jenson as Marie 1923 Hunchback of Notre Dame

However the worse offender of the 1920 style in a costume is Marie’s. Marie is Clopin’s wife. Marie actually has two costumes but they’re very similar.  Both are very shapeless dresses that flattened out her chest which is  the classic 1920 silhouette.

Eulalie Jenson as Marie 1923 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Eulalie Jenson as Marie 1923 Hunchback of Notre Dame

One  has almost kimono-esque sleeves that have a scallops detail at the edge. Both hemlines hit at the ankles but one it’s a handkerchief hem, so the longest point hit the ankle.

Handkerchief hems were popular in the 1910-1920’s and it was seen in Ancient Greece.  While it was used in Antiquity it was not at all popular in 1482. The other one is pointed with a scallop edge which makes it appear shorter. While Esmeralda’s costumes harken to the 20’s, Marie’s flaunts it to the point that it looks really out of place.

Eulalie Jenson as Marie 1923 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Eulalie Jenson as Marie 1923 Hunchback of Notre Dame

 

The costumes are appropriately medieval for the men and the women’s costumes are mixed with the style of the 1920 to make they look more stylish regardless of period appropriateness.

Patsy Ruth Miller as Esmeralda 1923 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Patsy Ruth Miller as Esmeralda 1923 Hunchback of Notre Dame

 

Pictures came from the Philip J Riley Book

Next Time – The Sets

Notre Dame de Paris set from the 1923 version of Hunchback picture image

Notre Dame de Paris Set from the 1923 version of Hunchback

 

Jehan 1923 Hunchback of Notre Dame Brandon Hurst picture image

Black Cloak held up to the eyes, Classic Evil Acting

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.

 

 

Lon Chaney as Quasimodo 1923 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Lon Chaney as Quasimodo 1923 Hunchback of Notre Dame

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.

 

Patsy Ruth Miller as Esmeralda 1923 Hunchback of Notre Dame

Patsy Ruth Miller as Esmeralda 1923 Hunchback of Notre Dame

 

In her bookPasty 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.

 

Gringoire (Raymond Hatton) & Phoebus (Norman Kerry) 1923 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Gringoire (Raymond Hatton) & Phoebus (Norman Kerry) 1923 Hunchback of Notre Dame

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.

Quasimodo dying Hunchback of Notre Dame 1923 Lon Chaney pictuure image

Quasimodo dying Hunchback of Notre Dame 1923 Lon Chaney

Next Time – Costumes

Esmeralda Hunchback of Notre Dame Patsy Ruth Miller 1923 picture image

Esmeralda Hunchback of Notre Dame Patsy Ruth Miller 1923

Esmeraldas of Hunchback of Notre Dame Miller, O'Hara, Lollobrigida, Down, Disney, Hayek, Segara, Thierry, Enchanted Tales

Miller, O’Hara, Lollobrigida, Down, Disney, Hayek, Segara, Thierry, Enchanted Tales

 

What Hunchback version is your favorite?

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Clopin (Ernest Torrence) 1923 The Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Clopin (Ernest Torrence) 1923 The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Clopin is the most complex character in the 1923 version of Hunchback of Notre Dame.  He’s conniving yet caring.  In this version like in most every other version, Clopin is merged with the Duke of Egypt, one of the leaders of the Court of Miracles, leader of the Esmeralda’s group, and Esmeralda’s protector. In in role as the Duke, Clopin is Esmeralda’s  adopted father. She is the only person that can soften his heart.

 

Clopin (Ernest Torrence) & Jehan (Brandon Hurst) 1923 The Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Clopin (Ernest Torrence) & Jehan (Brandon Hurst) 1923 The Hunchback of Notre Dame

 

Clopin in the version also has a partnership with Jehan. The nature  of their friendship is never explain. Jehan tries to get Clopin mobilizes the Court of Miracle against the nobles and Jehan try to tempt Clopin with gold of Notre Dame in exchange for Esmeralda. The basis for their interaction could be taken from the La Esmeralda Opera Libretto that Hugo wrote in which Clopin works with Frollo and was the one to hide in the room when Esmeralda and Phoebus has their encounter. It could also be that Jehan does join the Court of Miracles in the book though he never interaction in Clopin. Or it could that it is mention in the book by Gringnoire that the Duke intends to sell Esmeralda to “gentlemen priest.”

Clopin (Ernest Torrence), Esmeralda (Patsy Ruth Miller) & Phoebus (Norman Kerry) 1923 The Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Clopin (Ernest Torrence), Esmeralda (Patsy Ruth Miller) & Phoebus (Norman Kerry) 1923 The Hunchback of Notre Dame

 

Clopin is also the one driving the social class sub-plot a.k.a the beggars vs the Nobles. It very similar to the 1939 version but in the 1939 version there were stakes, the nobel wanted Esmeralda out of Notre Dame here one noble just wants to marry. So basically it’s Clopin complaining and then getting mad when Esmeralda and Phoebus form a romantic attachment which for him is the ultimate insult.

 

Clopin (Ernest Torrence) 1923 The Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Clopin (Ernest Torrence) 1923 The Hunchback of Notre Dame

 

It’s not wholly the films fault that this sub-plot  doesn’t go very far. It’s actually because the copy that survives today is sixteen minutes shorter that the original. Most of these sixteen minutes were comprised of Clopin and one scene with Quasimodo gets clothes for Esmeralda, which is the scene where a prominent picture of Quasimodo was taken, so prominent in fact that it’s on the spine of the DVD.  As result of Clopin’s role is much smaller than the film intended.  However you can see some pictures and read the script in the Riley’s Book which is published with Pasty Ruth Miller’s Autobiography, both of which are good reads if you a fan of the 1923 version or Miller’s or of old movies/Hollywood.

Clopin (Ernest Torrence) 1923 The Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Clopin (Ernest Torrence) 1923 The Hunchback of Notre Dame

 

Clopin’s character suffers a lot from the cuts made to the film but even with the cuts is he the most complex  characters in the film and he at least interesting and memorable.

Clopin (Ernest Torrence) Dying 1923 The Hunchback of Notre Dame image picture

Clopin (Ernest Torrence) Dying 1923 The Hunchback of Notre Dame

 

Next Time – Gringoire

Raymond Hatton as Gringoire 1923 The Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Gringoire (Raymond Hatton) 1923 The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Phoebus (Norman Kerry) 1923 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Phoebus (Norman Kerry) 1923 Hunchback of Notre Dame

Phoebus in the 1923 version of  The Hunchback Notre dame is one of the few Phoebus that gets a bit of a character arc like in the book. In the book after getting stab he more or less gives up his cheating ways and dedicates himself to his Fiancée Fleur de Lys and submits to the tragedy of marriage.

 

Phoebus (Norman Kerry) revealing Esmeralda's bare shoulder (Patsy Ruth Miller) 1923 Hunchback of Notre Dame image picture

Phoebus (Norman Kerry) revealing Esmeralda’s bare shoulder (Patsy Ruth Miller) 1923 Hunchback of Notre Dame

In this version, Phoebus, after saving Esmeralda from the kidnapping attempt tries to seduce her but he is moved by her sweetness and innocence that his desire turns to true love. And with that Phoebus becomes the romantic hero who tries to marry her even though she is not in he same social class as him.

 

Phoebus (Norman Kerry) 1923 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Phoebus (Norman Kerry) 1923 Hunchback of Notre Dame

Besides being in love and getting stab by Not-Frollo (Jehan), Phoebus doesn’t do that much within the overall plot. He does reinforce that whole class system which the movie makes into a sub-plot but he himself is not bothered by it, so it’s not issue for him as a character. He does have a few amusing scenes with Gringoire and some overdramatic bits but other than he’s pretty dull.

Phoebus (Norman Kerry) and Esmeralda (Patsy Ruth Miller) 1923 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Phoebus (Norman Kerry) and Esmeralda (Patsy Ruth Miller) 1923 Hunchback of Notre Dame

 

Really his biggest purpose in the film is getting stab and giving Esmeralda a happy ending. Much like Not-Frollo, Phoebus is pretty dull when he turns into a romantic hero, he was was more interesting when he was being smarmy.

Phoebus (Norman Kerry) 1923 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Phoebus (Norman Kerry) 1923 Hunchback of Notre Dame

Next Time – Clopin

Clopin (Ernest Torrence) 1923 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Clopin (Ernest Torrence) 1923 Hunchback of Notre Dame

Jehan 1923 Hunchback of Notre Dame Brandon Hurst picture image

Jehan (Brandon Hurst) 1923 Hunchback of Notre Dame

The Frollo character in the 1923 version of the Hunchback of Notre Dame is the worst depiction of the character in any of the prominent adaptations. What do I mean when I say the Frollo character? Well he is the character who acts on his lust for Esmeralda and gets the plot moving. What makes Frollo a compelling character is his inner struggle about desiring a girl and even if he is not a priest he needs to be battling against something that is contrary to his way of being/thinking. Either it’s his own pride of his purity or his bigoted opinion of the Gypsies. This is the hallmark to his character,  without it all you have is a creepy pervert and that is exactly what this Frollo is; an evil creepy pervert.

 

Jehan Frollo (Brandon Hurst) Hunchback of Notre Dame 1923 picture image

Jehan Frollo (Brandon Hurst) Hunchback of Notre Dame 1923

This version is the first time the Frollo character was split into two characters who are brothers; Jehan, the younger  is the licentious lecher (the Frollo Character)  and the  saintly older Claude (or in the case of the 1923 version Dom Claudio). This method was employed in the 1939 version however it worked in that movie as Jehan Frollo had depth and some complexity. In the 1923 version there is no depth to Jehan, he is nothing more than a spoiled perverted brat.

 

Jehan and Esmeralda 1923 Hunchback of Notre Dame Brandon Hurst and Patsy Ruth Miller picture image

Jehan (Brandon Hurst) trying to overpower Esmeralda (Patsy Ruth Miller))

In a nutshell, Jehan was a priest but he decided he preferred sins to virtues. This brief bit of backstory is presented in one inter-text card. So what could have been an integral part of the movie is reduce to a sentence. Now to be fair, movies in the early 20s didn’t really flesh out villains, they were bad, so at least we get a text card that somewhat acknowledges the book. However even giving the movie a stylistic pass, Jehan is still weak. Maybe if he delighted in his evil or in his desires that would have been more enjoyable as a character. There are a few moments of hammy 20’s over-acting that are enjoyable but other than that he just very weak and not very memorable. He is just devoid of any interest, personality or passion. All he is a creepy perverted stalker.

 

Jehan 1923 Hunchback of Notre Dame Brandon Hurst picture image

Jehan (Brandon Hurst) 1923 Hunchback of Notre Dame

 

Next Time – Phoebus

Phoebus 1923 Hunchback of Notre Dame Norman Kerry picture image

Phoebus (Norman Kerry) 1923 Hunchback of Notre Dame