Today's review is The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923) Directed by Wallace Worsley, srarring Lon Chaney, based on the book, Notre Dame de Paris by Victor Hugo.
The film is not tinted, and the sountrack has asymphonic score and sound effects dubbed in rather than a simple piano or organ track. The Hunch back of Notre Dame takes place in Renaissance Paris, and it centers on a woman, Esmerelda (Patsy Ruth Miller) who is torn between the worlds of two social classes. She is the foster daughter of Clopin (Ernest Torrence), the King of Beggers, and the object of effection of the arriscratic captain, Phoebus (Norman Kerry) and the dastardly scoundrel, Jehan (Brandon Hurst. The star of the film is Chaney, "The man of a thousand faces" as Quasimotto, the titular hunchback.
The plot is complex and takes many twists and turns through its course. The gothic cinematography is breathtaking and make-up ahead of its time. Check out Quasimodo's hairy back during his lashing. Chaney is a master of motion, as a cripple that moves like a cat, and the scenes of him ringing the cathedral bells is truely a site to behold. The film is packed with drama, action comedy and clorful characters who also include Jehan's brother, the pious Don Claudio (Nigel De Brulier) and the effeminate street poet, Gringoire (Raymond Hatton) as well as one very angry mob, and it delivers more than one message.
If you don't know the story, I'd rather not recap the plot here because it would be better not to spoil it. I loved this movie, it is one of the best silent films I've ever seen. I give it five stars out of five (*****). I would not reccomend this movie to someone new to the silent format, because of its complex plot. See a few simpler silent films to get used to it first, then check this gem out.