Theda Bara as Esmeralda in the 1917 The Darling of Paris picture image

Theda Bara as Esmeralda in the 1917 The Darling of Paris


Let’s consider a trend with Lost Films. All the films seem to make Esmeralda the main character. Every film but the 1911 version refereed to Esmeralda in the title and every film but the 1905 version had a prominent actress playing Esmeralda.

Given that most of the films of Hunchback favor Quasimodo as main character would it have made a difference if the four last films were available today? Might have help a little bit considering the 1923 version was originally a star vehicle for Pricilla Dean before Lon Chaney made it his picture. That’s right I think it’s pretty much Chaney’s doing that made the role of Quasimodo the point of focus for the films.  You have to really wonder if the film had been Dean’s movie would  Hunchback have had the same number of films and enjoyed the some film legacy.

It’s just such a interesting trajectory the focus that Hunchback films have taken, first focusing on the young and sometimes tragic Gypsy Dancer to the deformed often tragic hunchback. And when you consider the first four films were all Esmeralda based till Chaney changed it you have to really blame Chaney for it  seeing as he had a lot to do with  the 1923 version.

Howver there is at least ONE existing films version is known for the actress who plays Esmeralda.

Next Hunchback version the 1997 version called Hunchback and commonly known as the Salma Hayek version

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

Salma Hayek as Esmeralda, 1997 Hunchback of Notre Dame


The third lost Hunchback films was first the American adaptation from 1917 called The Darling of Paris. It was directed J. Gordon Edwards and was made at Fox Studios in New Jersey. It starred one of the most popular actresses of the Silent era, Theda Bara. Bara was one of cinema’s earliest sex symbols and a femme fatale and was nicknamed the Vamp.

Theda Bara as Esmeralda

Theda Bara as Esmeralda

Considering Bara’s reputation she probably played a sexier Esmeralda. The film is supposedly loosely based on novel. The cast of characters has Paquette and Gringoire so Esmeralda’s backstory and relationship with Gringoire could have been let intact. Very little in known about this movie. It wasn’t one Bara’s seminal movies, Like A Fool There Was was or Cleopatra.