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Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Hunchback Of Notre Dame (1923)

Starring Lon Chaney, Patsy Ruth Miller, Norman Kerry, Kate Lester, Winifred Bryson
Directed by Wallace Worsley
(actor & director credits courtesy

The deformed hunchback and bell-ringer of Notre Dame Cathedral, Quasimodo, falls for the beautiful young gypsy, Esmeralda, when she shows him kindness, but other men also desire her. 

Another of Lon Chaney's great performances and makeups is showcased in this lively adaptation of Victor Hugo's novel, with plenty of spectacle and large crowd scenes also on display.  As the hunchback, though he does engender pathos in his scenes with Miller, the actor plays a particularly vengeful creature, suiting his bestial makeup, jagged teeth, and scowling one-eyed face.  I don't think there've been many faithful adaptations of Hugo's novel, and this has a number of departures, replacing Arch-Deacon Frollo with his brother as the story's primary villain, and conjuring a happy ending for the film, replacing the story's downbeat and tragic coda.  Nonetheless, it recaptures many key sequences from the novel, and Chaney's energetic performance is one for the ages.

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