Hunchback Of Notre Dame, The

23. THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME (1923-usa). With Lon Chaney, Patsy Ruth MILLER, NORMAN KERRY, ERNEST TORRENCE, RAYMOND HATTON. He dwells within the sanctuary of Notre Dame Cathedral: deaf, half blind, monstrously deformed, he is ridiculed and exploited by a brutal world, against which he strikes back in defiance. Yet his hideous face and body conceal an essentially gentle heart and a vital spirit, which he expresses by ringing the cathedral’s great bellsÑ”the only voice of his groping soul.” He is, of course, Quasimodo, VICTOR HugoÕs marvelous creation, and he’s played by Lon ChanÂey, the unique “Man of 1000 Faces”. The character’s extraordinary makeup, which Chaney himself devised, included a face misshapen by mortician’s wax, a wig of filthy hair, a set of uneven, fang-like teeth, a 70-pound rubber hump, a harness contraption to prevent him from standing erect, and another painful device to hold his mouth open. Although Charles Laughton, Anthony Quinn and others would play the role, Chaney’s is still the definitive performance, brilliantly evoking both terror and pity, expressing the grotesque as well as the subÂlime. Film historian William Everson has called it “a masterpiece of pantomimic tour de forceÉ among the great screen portrayals of all time.” This is the film that made Chaney a big star, and its spectacular production values provided a worthy showcase for his talents. Quasimodo’s story is set against the exciting conflict beÂtween two men over the beautiful gypsy woman Esmeralda, whom Quasimodo secretly lovesÑand for whom he tragically sacrifices his life. And all of this is woven into a colorful and complex tapestry of medieval France, ranging from the corrupt court of Louis XI to the seamy underworld of the rowdy paupers and cripples led by Clopin, King of the Beggars. An extremely expensive ($1.5 million) project for its time, the movie feaÂtures elaborate reconstructions of the entire Paris streets and of Notre Dame’s facade and courtyard, as well as thrilling crowd scenes, climaxing in the masterfully staged storming of the cathedral. Rich in detail, epic in scope, and magnificent in performance, this is truly one of the high points of the silent cinema. Silent film with music, score, correct projection speed. 133 minutes. ÒSilentÓ Horror Suspense