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 last lost Hunchback film was made a year before the Lon Chaney version in 1922. It was called Esmeralda and was directed Edwin J Collins. It was the first British version. It starred stage trained British actress, Dame Sybil Throndike as Esmeralda and stage actor Booth Conway as Quasimodo. Frollo was played by Annesley Healy and Phoebus by Arthur Kingsley.

Sybil Thorndike

Dame Sybil Thorndike

Throndike was a distinguished actress who played many  various roles like Lady Macbeth, Lady Dedlock and Hester Prynne to name a few. Thorndike, however was nearly 40 when she played Esmeralda and not a typical classical beauty. So one might think she got the role due her established film career but she had only started acting in films a year prior in 1921. The thought is that this movie was based on one her plays, which speaks to her acting skills. Esmeralda however is not one of her seminal films roles. Little else is known about this movie.