The Hunchback of Notre Dame

1939

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Critics Consensus

No consensus yet.

100%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 12

87%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 7,613
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Movie Info

In 15th century France, a gypsy girl is framed for murder by the infatuated Chief Justice, and only the deformed bellringer of Notre Dame Cathedral can save her.

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Critic Reviews for The Hunchback of Notre Dame

All Critics (12) | Fresh (12)

Audience Reviews for The Hunchback of Notre Dame

  • Jul 28, 2017
    There is a darkness to Victor Hugo's novel, and while there were quite a few changes in this film version, it captures a good part of it, and is very well made. Set in the late 15th century, cruelty, torture, misogyny, ignorance, and superstition are the order of the day, and director William Dieterle does a great job of presenting it in an unflinching yet balanced way. The film is entertaining and has elements of romance and humor. It also many beautiful shots, such as those at the 'festival of fools', and those highlighting an impressive studio version of Notre Dame and its gargoyles. Laughton is brilliant as Quasimodo, and the rest of the cast is strong as well, including Maureen O'Hara as Esmerelda, the gypsy woman who will end up having four men fall for her. I have to say, though, Harry Davenport is not regal enough in his role as King Louis XI. I won't spoil anything, but as the film sets a perfect mood and is spot on in so many scenes, I think it would have been even better had it been more faithful to the novel.
    Antonius B Super Reviewer
  • Oct 19, 2013
    Victor Hugo's classic tale of a fated love between a hunchback and a gypsy girl. Hugo's eye for characterization, complex interconnected plots, revolutionary fervor, the healing power of religion, social outcasts, and love is on full display in this film adaptation of his novel <i>Notre Dame de Paris</i>. The script gives the basics, the skeleton, that the novel fills out, but considering Hugo's loquaciousness, the screenplay is nonetheless an achievement. Charles Laughton is at his most affecting. The burly character actor becomes Quasimodo with the same alacrity that he became Henry VIII. Comparable to Phillip Seymour Hoffman of our time (though a talent truly to say beyond compare), Laughton was his era's artist. Overall, this is a thrilling and emotional adaptation of an excellent novel.
    Jim H Super Reviewer
  • May 22, 2010
    Outstanding performances by Hardwicke and Laughton especially. It's a benchmark film for a reason.
    Morris N Super Reviewer
  • Oct 02, 2009
    Where Lon Chaney's Quasimodo was dark and often bitter or vicious, Laughton's version is almost wholly good. Maybe it's the difference in make-up: Chaney looks more beast-like and hideous while Laughton, though deformed, retains his humanity (in fact, its Charles Laughton's Quasimodo that is the basis of the animated Hunchback, and even Sloth from "The Goonies"). The main difference though, is that in the latter version, the character is intended to be more sympathetic. The Chaney version is of the monster movie variety, and even though we might feel sympathy for the Hunchback or King Kong or the Phantom of the Opera, they were never the heroes of their movies. The 1939 Hunchback is definitely the hero, and an angst-ridden one at that. He's an outcast, and we feel his pain, but Laughton manages to keep it from being overly emotional. He's a freak who laughs in spite of himself. The story is the familiar Victo Hugo one, albiet with perhaps a happier ending. Maureen O'Hara, in her first screen appearance, plays the beautiful Gypsy Esmeralda, who only wants justice for her people. I think in 1939, the story took a decidedly anti-nazi stance, the soldiers with their blind racism and book burning can only be a reference to nazi regime. Those who favor faithful reproductions of original sources in their film might be disappointed, but the general consensus is this film is one of the all time classics, and I tend to agree. A beautiful film with an amazing and touching performance by Charles Laughton, the best Hunchback.
    Devon B Super Reviewer

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