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"The Hunchback of Notre Dame" Reviews/Discussion - 2023 Horror Challenge

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"The Hunchback of Notre Dame" Reviews/Discussion - 2023 Horror Challenge

Old 09-24-23, 11:49 PM
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"The Hunchback of Notre Dame" Reviews/Discussion - 2023 Horror Challenge



The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923)




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These "October Horror Movie Challenge" threads are for the discussion of the films in the 31 FILM SUBSET list.

The plan is for everyone to watch this film on the October day in the thread title, and to start discussing it the morning of the following day.
You may start discussion early if you want, but the preferred plan is for this to be as much of a group exercise as possible, with all of us viewing it "together" and discussing after.

Of course, you are totally encouraged to participate in these threads even if you haven't watched the movie on the designated day.
Even if you haven't watched it in years, or are not participating in the Horror Challenge, please feel free to chime in.



Spoiler tags aren't always used in here, so if you have yet to see the film BEWARE OF POSSIBLE SPOILERS.

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2023 DISCUSSION | 2023 LISTS
Old 10-12-23, 10:17 PM
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Re: "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" Reviews/Discussion - 2023 Horror Challenge

Also note that this is another film where you will do better to watch a clean print on Youtube than watch the copy that is on Prime.

This is a movie where I have seen all the major bits and pieces, but I don't think I ever sat down and watched the entire film. It really is a work of art and Chaney's performance is fantastic. The sets, the acting, the shots...it is easy to see why it is considered a classic of the silent era.

I have not seen many silent films, but I was pretty surprised by the large number of scenes where there is obvious dialogue, but they leave it to the audience to figure out what is going on. I assume that was not only to keep from having tons of reading having to be done but also because there where probably a lot of literate people during that time and you don't want to alienate your audience.

Watching this really made me want to rewatch it with a historical commentary. I saw there is one on Youtube with Howard Blake. Has anyone here listened to it or have any other recommendations? I probably won't revisit it during the challenge but probably sometime next month.

For those that have watched several of the other Hunchback films, which one is your favorite or the one you recommend? I don't think I have seen any other versions unless I watched one as a kid that I have forgotten.

Good Stuff! My rating: **** out of *****
Old 10-16-23, 11:55 AM
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Re: "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" Reviews/Discussion - 2023 Horror Challenge

We seriously need more Hunchback in this movie!
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Old 10-16-23, 11:58 AM
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Re: "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" Reviews/Discussion - 2023 Horror Challenge

The immortal struggle of the haves versus the have nots. Grand film, one could watch people climbing around cathedrals all day and it might not get old; cathedral parkour and blowing raspberries - definitely needs more Hunchback! The implied historical context (predating it’s 1920s originals) is surreal considering how much actual historical context there is in the film. “Have you so little misery you need to create more?” HoND is a witty film but it’s plot of cartoonish and filled with melodramatic turns less interesting than it’s weird context and clever dialogue. What a gut punch of an ending. Au revoir!

Last edited by Undeadcow; 10-16-23 at 12:20 PM.
Old 10-16-23, 01:56 PM
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Re: "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" Reviews/Discussion - 2023 Horror Challenge

As much a love story as a horror movie, but certainly maybe the original "beauty and the beast" storyline. Its a great film, but only because of Lon Chaney. Some of the other actors, particularly Norman Kerry are just there.

I can recommend the Kino Blu Ray. It has an excellent commentary track
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Old 10-16-23, 09:53 PM
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Re: "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" Reviews/Discussion - 2023 Horror Challenge

I've not read Victor Hugo's novel, and the only adaptations I've seen are Disney's animated feature and an episode of Wishbone. Both of those play down the class warfare storylines so I wasn't excepting how much of the film would be about factions being manipulated and aggrieved. I'm definitely putting the novel on my to-read list.

The movie was fantastic. Lon Chaney's physicality and makeup is so impressive. I love when he's joyfully ringing the bells after saving Esmeralda and demanding sanctuary in the cathedral. Patsy Ruth Miller is beautiful, and I really enjoyed her performance. She doesn't get a lot to do except dance and react to those around her. She doesn't initiate any of the romances in which she finds herself entangled which was interesting. Disney's character is much more engaged in titillating the crowds and flirting with Phoebus. I also thought Ernest Torrence was great as Clopin.
Old 10-17-23, 12:36 AM
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Re: "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" Reviews/Discussion - 2023 Horror Challenge

I'm just not a fan of most silent movies. Without dialogue, my mind wanders. Lon Chaney is amazing, but by every other measure, I much prefer the 30's version with Charles Laughton.
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Old 10-17-23, 01:20 PM
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Re: "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" Reviews/Discussion - 2023 Horror Challenge

This was a great watch, one that I'm surprised I never got around to. Chaney really is the show here. It's amazing how much he can get across without words. Also amazing is his makeup, but I guess this is one where one might find the makeup more dated. If you look at subsequent renditions, I think they focused more on realism (or something closer to that) while Chaney seemed to push the horror. It's something that I think impacts this film more than something like Phantom of the Opera - at least to me. That's not meant to reduce his achievement here. It's just the change in style from then to now seems more pronounced.
Old 10-17-23, 11:51 PM
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Re: "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" Reviews/Discussion - 2023 Horror Challenge

Originally Posted by jholmes
I'm just not a fan of most silent movies. Without dialogue, my mind wanders. Lon Chaney is amazing, but by every other measure, I much prefer the 30's version with Charles Laughton.
I want to check out that adaptation. I love Laughton and imagine he's a great Quasimodo. I'm a huge fan of silent movies, but I think I'm in the minority. In grad school, I was a teacher's assistant for an Intro to Film class, and the first question I was asked at the interview was "will you watch silent movies or movies in b/w". It was always a slog to get students to actually watch the silent movies assigned!
Old 10-21-23, 07:36 PM
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Re: "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" Reviews/Discussion - 2023 Horror Challenge

I watched this last night. It kept my attention better than I was expecting for a silent film, but I don't have a lot of experience with silent film. I don't know why it should have, but it surprised me how much I recognized from right out of the Disney film, which is the only other version I've seen, and even then only a couple of times. Not as much Hunchback as I was expecting, but I enjoyed this film for what it was, which I guess is saying something for a movie that's 100 years old.
Old 11-06-23, 11:35 AM
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Re: "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" Reviews/Discussion - 2023 Horror Challenge

IMDB credit Lon Chaney for makeup effects here, those were pretty great - did he do them himself?
Old 11-17-23, 03:12 PM
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Re: "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" Reviews/Discussion - 2023 Horror Challenge

Originally Posted by Undeadcow
IMDB credit Lon Chaney for makeup effects here, those were pretty great - did he do them himself?
Everything I've ever read says he did - not just this but for most, if not all, of his roles.

Those of you who've not seen the 1939 version with Laughton and O'Hara *need* to watch that one as well. I like Chaney's silent version but it's hard to beat the 1939 one, which wins by a hair in my book. No other version comes close to either of these.

Last edited by BobO'Link; 11-17-23 at 03:18 PM.
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Old 03-15-24, 09:59 PM
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Re: "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" Reviews/Discussion - 2023 Horror Challenge

Absolutely! And the blu-ray looks amazing just like those Universal Horror 4k.
Old 03-17-24, 06:48 PM
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Re: "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" Reviews/Discussion - 2023 Horror Challenge

Originally Posted by Spiderbite
For those that have watched several of the other Hunchback films, which one is your favorite or the one you recommend? I don't think I have seen any other versions unless I watched one as a kid that I have forgotten.
I read the novel as a JR in HS and liked it so much I purchased my own copy when I got to college. As for the film versions I've seen, here's my rankings and some comments. I own copies of all of these:

1. 1939 starring Charles Laughton as Quasimodo and Maureen O'Hara as Esmeralda. This one's been a favorite since I first saw it.

2. 1923 silent film starring Lon Chaney as Quasimodo. Another favorite. While very well done I prefer the 1939.

3. 1956 French film starring Anthony Quinn as Quasimodo and Gina Lollobrigida as Esmeralda. I got this one solely for Gina Lollobrigida. Quinn is good enough but can't hold a candle to Laughton's or Chaney's portrayals. Quasimodo is less disfigured than most other portrayals and Quinn portrays him as more of a simpleton. The English track has Quinn and Lollobrigida speaking English while the rest of the cast is dubbed. *Everyone* speaks French on the French track - no dubbing used (which makes it my preferred audio track). It's notable for being the first color version. It's also more faithful to the novel than other versions. I rewatch this one more frequently than the silent though like the silent better.

4. 1996 animated film by Walt Disney Feature Animation. I was sent a copy of this instead of the 1956 French film and when complained was told to keep it. So I watched it because I like the story. I was surprised that I enjoyed it and and how the overall core story is fairly accurate (but has *significant* changes anyway). I don't care for the musical numbers and the anthropomorphic gargoyles, but that's typical Disney (and a complaint I have with lots of their animated product) and they weren't overly distracting. All in all it's a typical Disneyfied version of a classic story so if you go in expecting that you won't be disappointed. I didn't care for the sequel at all (it was a 2-film package so I watched it).

5. 1982 British-American television film starring Anthony Hopkins as Quasimodo, Lesley-Anne Down as Esmeralda and also includes David Suchet and John Gielgud. The cast is generally good to excellent but the staging and makeup, especially that of Quasimodo, are lacking and what took me out of the story most. It's also a bit talky.
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