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


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