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 Quasimodo 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  by Hugo to get an accurate look. For his cheeks Chaney used cotton and colodium. Colodium is a skin sealer. What he would do is 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

Quasimodo (Lon Chaney) Hunchback of Notre Dame 1923 picture image

Quasimodo (Lon Chaney) Hunchback of Notre Dame 1923

The 1923 version of Hunchback of Notre Dame starts and end with Quasimodo but he is not much of  a major player in the middle of film, between the pillory scene and saving Esmeralda. But since Lon Chaney gets top billing since it was he’s project Quasimodo is the main character.

Quasimodo points to at the Parisans Hunchback of Notre Dame 1923 Lon Chaney picture image

Quasimodo points to at the Parisans Hunchback of Notre Dame 1923 Lon Chaney

 

Quasimodo in this version is the closet to how  he behaves in the book. Quasimodo doesn’t like  the people of Paris and this version shows that in Quaismodo’s introductory scene as well as his connection to Notre Dame. You do get the feeling that his Quasimodo wouldn’t have saved Esmeralda if she hadn’t give him water, you get this Quasimodo may have not felt nothing which makes his loyalty to her more meaningful and it gives his character a bit of an arc.

 

Esmeralda patting Quasimodo on the head Hunchback of Notre Dame 1923 Lon Chaney with Patsy Ruth Miller picture image

Esmeralda patting Quasimodo on the head Hunchback of Notre Dame 1923 Lon Chaney with Patsy Ruth Miller

However this Quasimodo acts more like a dog that a person. A scene that showcases this perfectly is right after Quasimodo recuses Esmeralda she pats him on the head. This Quasimodo doesn’t see to be in love with Esmeralda he just seems to want to protect her. There doesn’t seem to the selfless love that in is the book and  Laughton captured  in the 1939 version.

 

Quasimodo on the Pillory Hunchback of Notre Dame 1923 Lon Chaney picture image

Quasimodo on the Pillory Hunchback of Notre Dame 1923 Lon Chaney

Quasimodo make-up may look outdated but it’s well done by Chaney and accurate to the Book. Also Chaney’s Quasimodo is a lot most acrobatic than other Quasimodos as Chaney was capable of jumping and climbing though stuntmen were used in a few instances but the 23 version is defiantly has most range of movement in a live-action film.

 

Quasimodo noticing his fatal wound Hunchback of Notre Dame 1923 Lon Chaney image picture

Quasimodo noticing his fatal wound Hunchback of Notre Dame 1923 Lon Chaney

If Quasimodo was meant to be the lead of the film and the emotional heart he does it well to a point. There some emotional confusion at the end of the movie and Quasimodo’s fate. I’m not sure how to feel that Quasimodo dies, sad, happy, bittersweet?

Quasimodo dying Hunchback of Notre Dame 1923 Lon Chaney pictuure image

Quasimodo dying Hunchback of Notre Dame 1923 Lon Chaney

Honestly I can’t gage any emotion from his death and I think that my problem with movie as a whole I don’t get an emotion or a heart of it. It has little vignettes of it but not in terms of a story that is based on a book with a very bittersweet ending.

 

Quasimodo looking sad Hunchback of Notre Dame 1923 Lon Chaney picture image

Quasimodo looking sad Hunchback of Notre Dame 1923 Lon Chaney

The 1923 is an odd Quasimodo because everything is there to make an compelling character and the film just misses the mark and makes Quasimodo more into a loyal puppy dog than a tragic hero.

Next Time – The 1923 Version of Esmeralda

Esmeralda Hunchback of Notre Dame Patsy Ruth Miller 1923 picture image

Esmeralda Hunchback of Notre Dame Patsy Ruth Miller 1923

There are three basic problems with the plot the 1923 version of the Hunchback of Notre Dame; its strong adherence to parts  that don’t make any sense in the scope of the movie, the changes that had to be made to appease the almighty censors, and Lon Chaney.

Quasimodo (Lon Chaney) Hunchback of Notre Dame 1923 picture image

Quasimodo (Lon Chaney) Hunchback of Notre Dame 1923

The last problem really isn’t a problem but if you watch the opening scene you can see what I mean. The opening scene starts with the Feast of Fool and then it cuts away to Lon Chaney as Quasimodo basically mocking people from atop Notre Dame. I do appreciate that this is the only version to have Quasimodo that has a basic dislike for people like he does in the book which this scene shows nicely  but to just an awkward way to introduce Lon Chaney as Quasimodo to the viewers and it ruins the pacing and makes the beginning boring.

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

Jehan Frollo (Brandon Hurst) Hunchback of Notre Dame 1923

 

The second issue has to do with censorship laws of the time. The law that pertains to Hunchback is a  movie couldn’t cast a priest in a negative light, meaning we can’t have a Priest lusting after a women. So much like the 1939 the role of the Frollo sinner is cast on the “Jehan” character the “Claude” character is the saintly priest. Unlike the 1939 version Jehan in this version has no reason why he can’t make a straight up move on Esmeralda. Nothing is stopping him; no conflict of her being a Gypsy or no implied religious morality getting in the way. He’s just a coward with no real personality or motivation.

Esmeralda (Pasty Ruth Miller) and Jehan Frollo (Brandon Hurst) Hunchback of Notre Dame 1923 picture image

Esmeralda (Pasty Ruth Miller) and Jehan Frollo (Brandon Hurst) Hunchback of Notre Dame 1923

There is no confliction for this Jehan so there is no interest. The plot of the book is hinged on Frollo’s obsession with Esmeralda so if there is no torment where does the interest to the plot lie? Well in this case the interest to the plot is Lon Chaney’s Quasimodo, so back to that issue, remember this film started the “Quasimodo is main character” mentality that the many of the films buy in to .

 

Gudule (Gladya Brockwell) Hunchback of Notre Dame 1923 picture image

Gudule (Gladya Brockwell) Hunchback of Notre Dame 1923

The finally issue is a weird one to be an issue because when we compare movies to book there is a part of us that wishes that the movie would follow the book perfectly and we get up annoy by what the movie misses or adds. However it is hard to make a movie follow the book perfectly as they are two different median for story telling. One aspect of the book that I wish made into more movies is the Sister Gudule sub-plot. Sister Gudule is Esmeralda’s mother. The 1923 version is one of the few version to have this sub-plot however it goes no where. We get the back story of how Esmeralda was taken and we see Gudule curse her and then as Esmeralda is about to die Gudule realizes Esmeralda is her child and then I guess she dies. So Esmeralda doesn’t learn this, it amounts to nothing. It was just there because it was in the book but if Esmeralda doesn’t learns this and where is the emotion in the end what was the point?

 

Esmeralda (Pasty Ruth Miller), Phoebus (Norman Kelly) and Clopin (Ernest Torrence) Ball Scene Hunchback of Notre Dame 1923 picture image

Esmeralda (Pasty Ruth Miller), Phoebus (Norman Kelly) and Clopin (Ernest Torrence) Ball Scene Hunchback of Notre Dame 1923

Another sub-plot that was added was this division of the nobel and the poor. Now this was a bigger point in the 1939 version here’s it amount to one scene where Phoebus brings Esmeralda to a party and he dresses up and tries to pass her off as a Princess and the party is broken up by Clopin and Esmeralda sadly rejects Phoebus. Like Gudule, these scene that revolve around the classes don’t add to very much to the over all plot

 

Esmeralda (Pasty Ruth Miller) Hunchback of Notre Dame 1923 picture image

Esmeralda (Pasty Ruth Miller) Hunchback of Notre Dame 1923

It’s not that entire plot and pacing of the 1923 version is bad it’s just following the book too closely wrecked the pacing and the removal of Frollo’s torment ruins the emotional intensity.  The “Chaney being forced” to the audiences was just the opening so it wasn’t  a major problem but  it’s the reason why the film doesn’t have a very strong opening scene.

Next Time-  Characters starting with Quasimodo

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

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

 

watch the 1923 on youtube in one handy long video, no but serious it’s very nice

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dm09QfKsOQ

Or you could buy the DVD from amazon and listen to former make-up artist Michael Blake  praise Lon Chaney and butcher the character’s name for an hour and forty minute i(namely Quasimodo, Esmeralda and Phoebus). Though I have to admit it was funny because it was kind of obvious that he had never read the book. Because in the book Frollo tries to force himself on Esmeralda and Quasimodo saves her, in the movie Frollo, be it Jehan in this case, does this and Quasimodo save her butBlake this scene is just the product of silent movies tropes and praise the movie for having Qausimodo save her and not Phoebus, :facepalms:

Hunchback of Notre Dame 1923 Lon Chaney picture image

Hunchback of Notre Dame 1923 Lon Chaney

The 1923 version of Hunchback of Notre Dame with Lon Chaney is the oldest surviving film version but it’s by no means the oldest. The Hunchback was a project Chaney really wanted to make. Initially Universal watched it to be a star vehicle for Priscilla Dean (who appeared in a few films with Chaney like Outside the Law & The Wicked Darling) but that along with many other attempts at it fell through.

Priscilla Dean image picture

Priscilla Dean

Chaney eventually struck a deal with Universal and Chaney and Irving Thalberg (then then head of Universal) made it into something special and not just another mass-produced movie that universal had been making at the try. The 23 version in affect made Universal into bigger name studio and launch Chaney’s career. But is it a good movie? Is it a good adaptation of Hugo’s novel? If Chaney hadn’t for the most part spearhead this movie and  who Esmeralda still have been the focus  in the movies?  Would there have been the same number adaptations?  These and probably more question coming soon.

 

Next Time- The Plot

Patsy Ruth Miller as Esmeralda Hunchback chaney version 1923 picture image

Patsy Ruth Miller as Esmeralda

Since we’re going to be embarking on reviewing the Lon Chaney version of Hunchback of Notre Dame I thought it would be a good time to ask an important question who is  more Handsome, Chaney as Quasimodo or Chaney as the Phantom of the Opera? Mmmm this is a very tough question as beauty is in the eyes of the beholder but then again so is ugliness.

 

Lon Chaney as the Phantom of the Opera picture image

Lon Chaney as the Phantom of the Opera

Lon Chaney as the Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image Quasimodo

Lon Chaney as the Hunchback of Notre Dame

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To answer this very tricky question I asked a crack team of young, impressionable and insecure, teenage girls  who all said that they were both ugly but if they had to pick they all chose the Phantom because even though he’s ugly, he is at least a musician and they all really like musician plus he is a better dresser. Though even when I pointed out that Quasimodo rang bells with making him a musician of sorts the girls still said the Phantom. I guess they like bad boys, typical huh?

My Crack Team of Young, Impressionable and Insecure,  teenage girls a.k.a Disney Princesses picture image

My Crack Team of Young, Impressionable and Insecure, Teenage Girls a.k.a Disney Princesses

 

Sorry Quasimodo, the girls prefer the deform, obsessed, musically-inclined psychopathic genius to your deformed and slightly angry yet loyal nature.

Lon Chaney as the Phantom of the Opera With Mary Philbin picture image

Phantom makes the Ladies go weak in the Knees

 

But what do you think? Who is do think is more handsome the Hunchback of Notre Dame or The Phantom of the Opera? (Remember keep it to Lon Chaney)

I’ve been a fan of  Animaniacs since the begining, but like some many children a lot of the joke went right over my head. I was watching Volume 2 recently and I notice a wonderful little refernce to the 1923 version.

Ok, so the opening has a line that is varied, this line has to end with an “Y” sound and one of these lines is “Where Lon Chaney” and the visual is  Wakko is dressed as Quasimodo and not as Phantom of the Opera which is probably Chaney’s most well-known role. So point for the Hunchback.

Wakko as Quasimodo Animaniacs picture image

Wakko as Quasimodo Animaniacs

Isn’t he cute?

Quasimodo clapping Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame

Quasimodo Clapping

I don’t think Disney denies knowledge of Hunchback like they do with the Black Cauldron it’s just very clear that from a  business stand point that Hunchback didn’t make the money that Disney was used to after the Renaissance and so it gets looked over in favor of the cash-cows. But why did Hunchback fail to garner the reviews and money and is hence ignored?  Well that is actually an easy question to answer, and it not so much the title translation it’s actually film history. You see the oldest surviving movies of Hunchback (the 1923 version and the 39 version) were both star vehicles for the actors who played Quasimodo. As a result Quasimodo has been the coveted role in Hunchback, it something I like to call “The Quasimodo Factor©” (more on this later) . (Why do you think Josh Brolin is playing Quasimodo, it’s because he a producer and chose to play him.) So as a Quasimodo has been pushed to the main character role even though he is not in the book.

Frollo and Quasimodo during Out There Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Frollo and Quasimodo during Out There Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame

 

I think this was Disney’s problem from the onset, they thought this film demanded Quasimodo and it didn’t matter how he was depicted. So Quasimodo with his sweet/bland personality was favored over the more interesting characters like Frollo, Clopin and Esmeralda.

Esmeralda and Quasimodo Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Esmeralda and Quasimodo Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame

 

I have to wonder that if Disney had made Frollo and Esmeralda the focus and put Quasimodo in a role where he was a minion and through some kind of exposure to Esmeralda is turned good if the movie who have done better. Was Disney too blindsided by Chaney and Laughton to see that it might have the Hunchback that bought down Notre Dame. I mean don’t get me wrong Disney was in a hard position with his one making an adult classic into a children-friendly film and I think for they did it worked, and I’m not bashing on Quasimodo but here is a challenge, list your favorite character from this movie and then list your favorite character from other Disney movies and see how  often did you site the protagonist as being one of your top. I bet comparatively people like other disney protagonists over Quasimodo.  So I think Quasimodo and the film revolving around him is the down fall and you can thank the 1939 version and the 1923 version for this.

 

Next Movie to be Reviewed – The 1923 Version Starring Lon Chaney….. oh….

 

Hunchback of Notre Dame 1923 Lon Chaney picture image

Hunchback of Notre Dame 1923 Lon Chaney

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*I’ll tell you what I’ll rank Disney characters too,  leave a comment with  5-7 disney movies, can be any movie (not Oliver I haven’t seen it but anything else is fair game (I think)) if I don’t hear from people by the  April 23th I’ll just choose at random. If  in the event I get more comments  I’ll pick the top 5-7 Disney movies that people picked Got it?

Beauty and the Beast Concept Art  Disney

Beauty and the Beast Concept Art Disney

La Belle et la Bete picture image

La Belle et la Bete

 

 

 

 

 

 

So as I’ve mentioned several times Disney takes older movies and re-makes them with their sacchrine Disney stamp. Aladdin  is based off of the Theif of Baghdad 1924 and1940 and The Thief And The Cobbler. Beauty and the Beast based  is off of La Belle et La Bete, though Belle is based off of Hepburn’s portayle of Jo from Little Women . And Be Our Guest uses Gustav Mahler’s Symphonie 3 First Movement for the melody.   And of course Disney is based Hunchback off of the 1939 version of Hunchback of Notre Dame with slight hints made to the Lon Chaney version in 1923. However Disney will never admit to doing this instead they do the opposite. In the DVD audio commentary, Directors Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise  and Producer Don Hahn basically criticize the 1939 version and the 1923 version. They claim that these two movies have made Quasimodo into a monster.  While Lon Chaney’s version is consider to be horror, it is not, Chaney is not the horrific monster that commentary paints him as. And as Charles Laughton’s Quasimodo well Disney’s Quasimodo is far more monstrous.

 

Quasimodo during Out There Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Singin’ in the Rain meets King Kong Shot

Reverse King Kong Shot Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Reverse King Kong Shot Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame

 

 

 

 

 

 

It makes me more than a little angry that Disney uses these sources but in an commentary they debase them and then they discuss other movies that they took inspiration from Like King Kong and Singin’ in the Rain . They also mention Minster Toad’s Wide Ride and Fantasia  in relation to Hellfire. It’s just annoying the way the directors and producer go on about how the brought a sense of humanity to Quasimodo that the old Hollywood failed to do.

Next Time – Conclusions

Phoebus, Quasimodo, Esmeralda Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame

Phoebus, Quasimodo, Esmeralda Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame