Friday, October 30, 2015

The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939)

Fair warning: wall to wall spoilers here.

Hot gypsy (Maureen O'Hara) sneaks into Paris, is chased, hides in church, is creeped on by old, politically connected dude, who orders hunchback (Charles Laughton) to capture her. She is rescued, falls in love with dashing knight, does the naughty-naughty with him, he is killed, she is framed, old creep uses goat to convict her, villagers go mad, deus ex machina, and everyone lives happily ever after.

Heavy on the exposition in parts and preachy throughout, this is Hollywood at it's hollywoodiest. Good characters embrace the printing press and the round Earth theory while the bad worry about being cursed by witches. If you don't get the moral at first, don't worry. Soon you will be bludgeoned to death with it. Before I get to what I liked, here is a big thing I had a problem with.

At the end Esmeralda is hiding out in the Church while creepy old dude tries to rescind the law of sanctuary. The Parisians defend the church from capture, and the thieves guild try to rescue her from the church. Lots of carnage and property damage while everyone is trying to PROTECT her! Why must people resort to violence when inflammatory propaganda fliers solve everything?

Despite itself, there were some good acting performances, and the costumes, makeup, and sets (beautifully photographed) were wonderful. Cedrick Hardwicke was great playing the Alan Rickman character. Maureen O'Hara recently passed and I just happened to have this on the DVR, so it got bumped to the front of the queue. Overbearing in tone at times, but very nice visually. AMRU 3.
"I'm about as shapeless as the man in the moon!"

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