Genre: Drama, Horror, Thriller
Runtime: 100 Minutes
Lon Chaney the star of Phantom of the Opera plays the simple minded, half-blind and deaf bell ringer of Notre Dame in a story of hate, love and deceit. Despite the film’s age it holds out as a classic film about the mistreatment of a deformed man (or referred to as creature). Spending over 3 hours a day applying his own make-up, Chaney gives a remarkable performance as the deformed and deaf Quasimodo. Although Chaney’s performance is outstanding, the film’s central plot does not go around the title as much as thought and Chaney’s performance supports the film. My expectations where a little higher of the film, but despite it’s downside the story is still gripping and purely entertaining. The sole reason the film is recalled today is because of Chaney’s outrageous physical presence and hideous make-up. The original story was not solely revolved around Quasimodo and is among many of the characters in the novel. With it’s divine acting and highly understandable story, it still stands out as one of Chaney’s finest performances and comes through as yet another classic silent film.
Our film opens with the simple-minded Quasimodo staring down at the happy Parisians in the 15th century in bitter hate as he is considered a freak and a joke of nature to them. the story is set in motion when the evil Jehan (Brandon Hurst), brother of saintly Notre Dame archdeacon Dom Claude (Nigel De Brulier), orders the dog-like Quasimodo to attempt to kidnap gypsy girl Esmeralda (Patsy Ruth Miller). Quasimodo is captured and flogged for his crime, whereupon Esmeralda shows him kindness by offering him water. He reciprocates when Esmeralda, framed on a murder charge by the obsessed Jehan (if he can't have her, no one can), is sentenced to be hanged. From there onwards through a series of plot twists and such, from here the film is about Quasimodo who only wants to be loved and the events that follow after his arrest.
A highly deserved make-up achievement
As I said, actor Chaney spent three hours a day in make-up whose costume consisted of a special device that made his cheeks jut out grotesquely; a contact lens that blanked out one of his eyes; and, most painfully, a huge rubber Even today Chaney’s make-up is incredible because of how genuine it looks. It was a very fine achievement from Chaney that gives a powerful impact to the character of Quasimodo. Lon Chaney is clearly one of the greatest actors of the silent age, and his performance in this back that up.
My Rating: 7.5/10
It is on the public domain. You can watch it on youtube here: