"Sanctuary!" The Hunchback of Notre Dame' Charles Laughton Maureen O'Hara
Here is a scene from one of the greatest films of the 1930s. The gypsy girl Esmeralda (Maureen O'Hara) has been sentenced to hang for witchcraft in front of Notre Dame cathedral by the Chief Justice (Sir Cedric Hardwicke). She is saved from certain death by the cathedral bell-ringer Quasimodo (Charles Laughton) to the delight of Gringoire, who loves her (played by a young Edmond O'Brien) and given sanctuary.
Halliwell's Film Guide writes: "This superb 1939 remake is one of the best examples of Hollywood expertise at work; art direction, set construction, costumes, camera, lighting and above all direction brilliantly support an irresistible story and bravura acting." The set of Notre Dame Cathedral was still standing from the 1923 Lon Chaney silent version, so was re-used in this picture.
The director (William Dieterle) was noted for his handling of huge crowds, as here, who had to endure a Californian heatwave during the outdoor scenes.
The musical score was one of Alfred Newman's finest and was nominated for an Oscar. However, there were in fact no Oscar wins for this film in 1939 but it was up against the enormous competition, with 'Gone with the Wind' sweeping the board that year. Nevertheless, it remains a classic movie and contains one of Laughton's very finest screen roles. (Scene uploaded from the Warner Bros. DVD with all due acknowledgments.)
Sean Magee Laughton was Excellent in this film classic
Shareholder Well, they don't make 'em like that anymore!! What a perfect bit of cinema. Thanks.
VIEW SOME INTERESTING COMMENTS ABOUT THE SUBJECT
Stin W Weird to think all these people lived their lives and are all dead now
Aida Cailar All that these "normal" people did was to stand there watching how that poor woman was about to be hanged...only "a monster" had the balls to save her from death!
Patrick Holland This was one of the greatest scenes in movie history.
Thomas DiMaggio How in the HELL was Charles Laughton not nominated for Best Actor for this film? He deserved it for the entire performance, but nowhere more so than for his final words. As Esmeralda rides off with Gringoire at the end, leaving Quasimodo looking after her with hopeless longing from the battlements of the cathedral, he turns to the gargoyle next to him and croaks "Why was I not made of stone like thee?" Utterly heartbreaking.
Lynn Gregory, I saw this on tv when I was sixteen, now I am 66 and it means so much more. Just magnificent.
P51D MUSTANG Maureen O'Hara was absolutely beautiful!
Norm Appleton Laughton did all those stunts too. He was going to make that movie or he was going to die.
eoselan7 The power of Laughton's heartbreaking performance as the noble Hunchback stays with you for a lifetime.
Pippistrelle72 Charles Laughton was a beautiful man! What an actor!
frank Ferro A great movie. Too bad kids today only know of the cartoon. And if you told them to watch this, they just wouldn't. Sad.
Kathy Harbourne Charles Laughton was such a good actor he took your attention to himself in every scene just by his sheer talent and beautiful interpretation of the words. This scene is wonderful but watching the whole film makes it much more powerful. Huge credit must also go to the craftsmen and women who restore films like this from the fuzzy and crackly originals, making them ready for future generations to enjoy the splendor.
Rick Macpherson It was a great movie in its time and a great movie today. You can feel what Quasimodo was thinking that he had to act fast. Thousands of people standing and watching and yet doing nothing to help the poor girl except one disfigured unloved man who made the right decision between life and death.
SIKU Jacob God bless Quasimodo. He lives in a church. He works for a church. He rescues the innocent with no care for his own safety. And he's a good friend. He would be a great disciple of Jesus.
Anne Shields Love this classic movie and Quasimodo was such a beautiful soul so pure of heart and childlike
Brenda Fegley One of the best films of all time
Angus Lamont Beautiful film. Remember first seeing it on BBC2 when I was around 7 years old and it left a big impression on me. Charles Laughton is superb.
Rick Kinki I'm 64, and I'm surprised that I've never seen this film. And I'm extra surprised that it was Charles Laughton as Quasimodo. I always associated him with Mutiny on the Bounty.
rolex452 Although this adaptation was not completely true to the Victor Hugo novel, it remains one of the greatest films ever made with regards to acting, set design, music score, and direction. I recently viewed a little read online review by some puerile millennial self-proclaimed movie reviewer who criticized the film for being a "horror movie" where the title character was not that scary, and the movie was slow-moving (not enough fast action for this dope). We know better! Thank you.
Michaels Some people, due to the sadness of the Notre Dame fire, think the movie was filmed there. It was not filmed in France, but a Hollywood backlot.
Richard W There used to “Million Dollar Movie” years ago where they would play the same movie every weeknight and all day Saturday and Sunday. I must of watched this movie 20 times as a kid.
Manjula Jayakody Amazing to think Maureen O'Hara only died 4 years ago... It such a legend....love her in The Quiet Man.
Babba Zee, what a great film... and no one was ever more beautiful than Maureen O'Hara
Dark Pone Anyone else getting goosebumps from this or just me?
Richard Gregory Overshadowed by other films of the same time, I agree this is one of the greatest films of the 1930s. Surely Charles Laughton as Quasimodo is one of finest performances and Sir Cedric Hardwicke is memorable as the Chief Justice Frollo. This scene, along with the earlier one where Quasimodo is publicly whipped, is probably the most memorable. The film is notable for the depiction of medieval Paris streets and Notre Dame itself. They are in fact recreations - RP Pictures built a massive set on its movie ranch in San Fernando Valley and even today it represents one of the most elaborate and expensive sets ever created; the massive production cost means that the movie only ever made a tiny profit and was thus a "failure" in commercial terms. It's overshadowed by the Universal Frankenstein movies, which likewise portrayed a monster with a human heart maltreated by those around him, finding a glove for the one person who shows him kindness. Only the Hunchback is far more brutal and unrelentingly realistic in its depiction of human cruelty and the Hunchback is a far less fantastical figure than the Monster.
karjayk88 My favorite scene in the whole movie!! Thank you for posting it!
POSTED BY SPYROS PETER GOUDAS TORONTO ONTARIO CANADA