Review: ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’

The programmed statistical recordings say this picture cost U over a million; that it called for tons of materials and hundreds of people, all sounding truthful enough (except the cost) after seeing it and the total achieved seems to have been a huge - mistake. The Hunchback of Notre Dame [from the novel by Victor Hugo] is a two-hour nightmare. It's murderous, hideous and repulsive.

The programmed statistical recordings say this picture cost U over a million; that it called for tons of materials and hundreds of people, all sounding truthful enough (except the cost) after seeing it and the total achieved seems to have been a huge – mistake. The Hunchback of Notre Dame [from the novel by Victor Hugo] is a two-hour nightmare. It’s murderous, hideous and repulsive.

Lon Chaney’s performance as a performance entitles him to starring honors. His misshapened figure from the hump on his back to the deadeyed eye on his face cannot stand off his acting nor his acrobatics, nor his general work of excellence throughout this film. And, when the hunchbank dies, you see Jehan (Brandon Hurst) stab him not once, but twice, and in the back or in the hump.

Knives were plentiful in the reign of Louis XI, 1482, in France. So were the tramps, with Clopin (Ernest Torrence) as King of the Bums making the misery stand out.

Patsy Ruth Miller is Esmeralda, a sweetly pretty girl carrying her troubles nicely enough for the heavy work thrust upon her and with the absence of heavy emoting. Norman Kerry is the gallant Phoebus and a lukewarm lover at times.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Production

Universal Super-Jewel. Dir Wallace Worsley; Screenplay Edward T. Lowe, Perley Poore Sheehan; Camera Robert Newhard, Tony Kornman Art Dir E.E. Sheeley, Sydney Ullman, Stephen Goosson

Crew

Silent. (B&W) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1923. Running time: 135 MIN.

With

Lon Chaney
Ernest Torrence
Patsy Ruth Miller
Norman Kerry
Kate Lester
Brandon Hurst
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