The Hunchback Of Notre Dame
Directed by Wallace Worsley
The Hunchback Of Notre Dame
Patsy Ruth Miller
The first film to fully capitalize on Lon Chaney's unorthodox appeal, The Hunchback Of Notre Dame is a sumptuous dramatization of Victor Hugo's classic novel, produced by Universal Studios at the then-phenomenal cost of $1.25 million. This was an extraordinary gamble, since the film boldly deviated from established Hollywood formula and made its central character not a charming romantic ideal, but a grusomely disfigured "monster" who is incapable of arousing in the beautiful leading lady anything more than pity.
As Quasimodo, the deaf bell-ringer of the Notre Dame cathedral, Chaney is a marvel of makeup and nonverbal expression, shuffling through the streets of medieval Paris, communing with the gargoyles of the cathedral's towers, dutifully suffering the lashes and humiliation for a crime committed by another, expressing a heart-rending love for a beautiful gypsy girl (Patsy Ruth Miller) who naïely sees only the military officer who represents the heroic ideal (Norman Kerry, who would again portray Chaney's handsome rival in Phantom Of The Opera and The Unknown). It is a performance that has lost none of its impact in the more than 70 years since its premiere.
"Chaney was not merely horrific, he was exactly what the hunchback ought to be...Exactly what he was in the Victor Hugo novel...And with all that makeup glued onto him and limping under that hump, there's still a performance...a huge performance, entirely satisfactory in its own terms." - Orson Welles
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