Review: ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’

Parading vivid and gruesome horror, with background of elaborate medieval pageantry and mob scenes, Hunchback of Notre Dame is a super thriller-chiller.

Parading vivid and gruesome horror, with background of elaborate medieval pageantry and mob scenes, Hunchback of Notre Dame is a super thriller-chiller.

From a strictly critical viewpoint, picture has its shortcomings. The elaborate sets and wide production sweep overshadows to a great extent the detailed dramatic motivation of the Victor Hugo tale. While the background is impressive and eye-filling, it detracts many times from the story, especially in the first half.

Supporting cast is studded with topnotch performers for each role. Cedric Hardwicke is the villainous King’s High Justice; Thomas Mitchell is the king of the beggars; Maureen O’Hara (excellent) is the gypsy girl who befriends the hunchback on the pillory and is saved by him later.

Production displays lavish outlay in costs for elaborate sets and thousands of extras for the mob scenes.

1939: Nominations: Best Score, Sound

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Production

RKO. Dir William Dieterle; Producer Pandro S. Berman; Screenplay Sonya Levien; Camera Joseph H. August; Editor William Hamilton, Robert Wise; Music Alfred Newman Art Dir Van Nest Polglase, Al Herman

Crew

(B&W) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1939. Running time: 115 MIN.

With

Charles Laughton
Cedric Hardwicke
Maureen O'Hara
Thomas Mitchell
Edmond O'Brien
Alan Marshal
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