Notre Dame de Paris (movie, 1923)

Notre Dame de Paris and The Hunchback of Notre Dame ( The Hunchback of Notre Dame ) is a film American directed by Wallace Worsley and released in 1923 . The lead role is held by Lon Chaney , and the rest of the cast includes Patsy Ruth Miller , Norman Kerry , Nigel De Brulier , and Brandon Hurst . The script is based on the eponymous novel by Victor Hugo , published in 1831 .

The film was very successful, and helped make Lon Chaney a star in Hollywood . His performance and Quasimodo make-up were particularly welcomed.


In the Paris of the xv th century, the gypsy Esmeralda dance on the forecourt of Notre Dame . His beauty upset Jehan, brother of the archdeacon of the cathedral. Jehan decides to remove it with the help of Quasimodo but she is saved by a squad of archers commanded by Phoebus de Châteaupers. The latter, sensitive to the beauty of the Gypsy, invites him to an inn . Esmeralda managed to escape but Quasimodo was taken prisoner and sentenced to twenty lashesin public place. He claims to drink and Esmeralda, of which he is secretly in love, gives him fresh water. Phoebus is engaged to Fleur-de-Lys but, seduced by the Gypsy, he gives him an appointment. Jehan, who followed them, stabs Phoebus.

Accused of murder, Esmeralda admits under torture the facts of murder and witchcraft that are blamed on her. Jehan offers her to save her life if she gives in to her wishes. She refuses. We will hang her on the forecourt but before executing the sentence she must go make amends to Our Lady of Paris to atone for her sins . Quasimodo seizes her and takes her to the cathedral where the right of asylum puts her under cover. He carries it in the room where he lodges at the top of the cathedral.

During this time the beggars of the Court of miracles gathered by their king Clopin, besiege the cathedral and try to penetrate there. Quasimodo is projecting on the insurgents blocks of stone and molten lead. Jehan managed to get near Esmeralda and tries to rape her. Meanwhile Phoebus was warned by the poet Gringoire who brings him a message of esmeralda frightened. Phoebus alerts the garrison . Quasimodo, abandoning his throwing of projectiles, returns to the Gypsy and fights with Jehan who, before being thrown into the void, stabs the hunchback deadly.

Technical sheet

  • Title: Notre-Dame of Paris
  • Original title: The Hunchback of Notre Dame
  • Director: Wallace Worsley , assisted by William Wyler and Robert Wyler
  • Scenario: Edward T. Lowe Jr. and Perley Poore Sheehan , from the novel by Victor Hugo
  • Photography: Robert Newhard (and various uncredited ones, including Virgil Miller and Charles J. Stumar )
  • Music: Heinz Roemheld and Carl Edouarde
  • Editing: Edward Curtiss , Maurice Pivar and Sydney Singerman
  • Producers: Carl Laemmle and Irving Thalberg
  • Distribution: Universal Pictures
  • Country of origin: United States
  • Format: Black and White – 35mm – 1.37: 1 – Mono
  • Genre: Drama
  • Duration: 115 minutes
  • Release dates:
    •  United States :
    •  France : (Paris)


  • Lon Chaney : Quasimodo
  • Patsy Ruth Miller : Esmeralda
  • Brandon Hurst : Jehan
  • Nigel De Brulier : Don Claudio
  • Norman Kerry : Phoebus of Châteaupers
  • Ernest Torrence : Clopin
  • Raymond Hatton : Gringoire
  • Tully Marshall : Louis XI
  • Eulalie Jensen : Marie
  • Gladys Brockwell : Sister Gudule

Uncredited Actors:

  • Cesare Gravina : undetermined role
  • Harry Holman : the fat man with Clopin



Irving Thalberg is at the origin of the project of Notre-Dame de Paris , it is the first production that he impels at Universal Pictures 1 . Thalberg persuades Carl Laemmle to commit a big budget of 1.5 million dollars for the time 1 , 2 . Thalberg is involved in project 1 .


The writers took great liberties compared to the novel . Here it is Jehan, younger brother of Claude Frollo , secondary character in the novel, who tries to seduce Esmeralda. In reality it is the archdeacon Claude Frollo who falls in love with her, makes him ban the forecourt and tries to remove it with the help of Quasimodo, be deformed he has raised. Unable to reach his ends, he denounces her for witchcraft . She will be hanged and Claude Frollo, assistant at the top of the tower at the execution, will be thrown into the void by Quasimodo. Perhaps, in order not to shock the Church, the writers did not dare to make the man of the church the “bad guy” .

In the novel, Esmeralda is hanged and his remains taken to Montfaucon’s mass grave where, after having thrown Frollo into the void, Quasimodo will let himself die near the body of the one he loved. In the film the end is not tragic and we have a happy ending .

Distribution and makeup

Carl Laemmle , director of Universal Pictures , hires Lon Chaney , actor, mime , acrobat , dancer, who had already shot with Wallace Worsley , to play Quasimodo . Each day of filming, for four hours, Lon Charney grimait and adjusted his prostheses to be deformed, a total of thirty kilos (18 kilo for the bump 3 and 15 for his false breast). Chaney is made for the face using cotton eyebrow and collodion 3 . He has a distorted eye 3 .

Shooting and sets

The decors reconstructing the cathedral, its forecourt and adjacent streets were located on ten hectares of land. They accidentally burned in 1967. The film cost a million and a half dollars and lasted six months. 2000 extras participated in the many crowd scenes.

Conservation of the film

The huge success of the film made it a cursed movie, all the copies having suffered. In 1947, a boss of Universal decided to destroy all the negatives of the silent films. In 2005 the American restaurateur David Shepard found a copy intact, integral and tinted. This version was presented on the television channel Arte in September 2008. A DVD is published under the label Arte 4 .

Notes and references

  1. ↑ a , b and c Rauger 2012 , p.  27
  2. ↑ ” Notre-Dame de Paris ”  [ archive ] , on (accessed January 25, 2014 )
  3. ↑ a , b and c Pintel 2003 , p.  286-287
  4. ↑  [ archive ]

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