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The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939)

Passed | | Drama, Romance | 29 December 1939 (USA)
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In 15th century France, a gypsy girl is framed for murder by the infatuated Chief Justice, and only the deformed bellringer of Notre Dame Cathedral can save her.

Director:

William Dieterle

Writers:

Sonya Levien (screen play), Bruno Frank (adaptation) | 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 2 Oscars. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Charles Laughton ... The Hunchback Quasimodo
Cedric Hardwicke ... Frollo (as Sir Cedric Hardwicke)
Thomas Mitchell ... Clopin
Maureen O'Hara ... Esmeralda
Edmond O'Brien ... Gringoire
Alan Marshal ... Phoebus
Walter Hampden ... Archdeacon
Harry Davenport ... King Louis XI
Katharine Alexander ... Madame de Lys
George Zucco ... Procurator
Fritz Leiber ... Old Nobleman
Etienne Girardot ... Doctor
Helene Reynolds ... Fleur de Lys (as Helene Whitney)
Minna Gombell ... Queen of Beggars (as Mina Gombell)
Arthur Hohl ... Olivier
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Storyline

King Louis XI is a wise and old king and Frollo is the Chief Justice. Frollo gazes on the gypsy girl, Esmeralda, in the church during Fool's Day and sends Quasimodo to catch her. Quasimodo, with the girl, is captured by Phoebus, Captain of the Guards, who frees the girl. The courts sentence Quasimodo to be flogged, and the only one who will give him water while he is tied in the square is Esmeralda. Later, at a party of nobles, Esmeralda again meets both Frollo, who is bewitched by her, and Phoebus. When Phoebus is stabbed to death, Esmeralda is accused of the murder, convicted by the court and sentenced to hang. Clopin, King of the Beggars; Gringoire, Esmeralda's husband; and Quasimodo, the bellringer, all try different ways to save her from the gallows. Written by Tony Fontana <tony.fontana@spacebbs.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Drama Unparalleled ! Spectacle Beyond Belief ! ! See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

29 December 1939 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Victor Hugo's Immortal Classic The Hunchback of Notre Dame See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,800,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(Turner library print) (copyright length)

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Victor System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Alfred Newman's "Hallelujah" cue was reused by the studio in It's a Wonderful Life (1946). See more »

Goofs

The cathedral is shown as having a full flight of steps up to the front doors. Notre Dame has always been more or less level with the square (le Parvis). See more »

Quotes

[Last lines]
Quasimodo, the bell-ringer: [to one of the stone gargoyles] Why was I not made of stone - like thee?
See more »

Alternate Versions

Also available in a computer colorized version. See more »

Connections

Featured in TCM Guest Programmer: Eric McCormack (2009) See more »

Soundtracks

Ave Maria
(1572) (uncredited)
Music by Tomás Luis de Victoria
Sung by mixed chorus during opening credits
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
stellar performances from a great book
15 March 2005 | by didi-5See all my reviews

One of the great Hollywood films of 1939, this adaptation of Victor Hugo's novel is sumptuously put together, boasting a fine script, tight direction by German export William Dieterle, and a cast who fit their parts perfectly: Charles Laughton superb as the maligned Quasimodo; Maureen O'Hara in an early role as gypsy Esmeralda; Cedric Hardwicke as the pious Frollo; and Harry Davenport as the king, Louis XI.

The story is a version of Beauty and the Beast set within the confines of Notre Dame Cathedral and the dirt-strewn and prejudiced streets of Paris. Quasimodo, physically repulsive and deafened by the bells of the cathedral, nevertheless finds it in his childish heart to love the beautiful Esmeralda and to sacrifice his sanctuary for her. She however only has eyes for the dashing Gringoire (Edmond O'Brien) who she saves from the justice of the beggar thieves.

It is Laughton's performance that holds this film together - truly one of the greatest screen actors, capable of portraying pathos like no other. Contrast this film role with his Henry VIII or Captain Bligh and you begin to get an idea of his impressive range.


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