Monday, October 31, 2011

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

On Saturday, I went to the Redford Theatre to go see the 1923 version of Hunchback of Notre Dame starring Lon Chaney. I LOOOOVE the Redford! It is such a beautiful theatre, is volunteer run, AND still has the original organ from 1928 when it was first built. My favorite part of the theatre is the starry night ceiling they have. It feels like you are watching a movie outdoors. Check it out on their website...Redford Theatre.

Anyways, I had never seen this movie the whole way through and was pretty excited because Lon Chaney is the master of horror. Also, I was really excited to see Gladys Brockwell in a film finally!

With that being said, it wasn't my favorite film of Chaney's. The movie introduced so many characters in a span of a few minutes that it took me a little bit to get everyone figured out. Also, I didn't really understand the pathos of the hunchback. I mean, I get that he was a tortured soul cooped up in the bell tower but really did have a soft spot inside, but still I was kinda lost on that part. And it didn't seem like he was really in the film that much.

Patsy Ruth Miller did a wonderful job as Esmeralda and she was so beautiful in the role. She reminded me of Olive Borden at times. My only nitpicking with that role was her t-shirt looking costume. When I think of a gypsy, I think of someone letting some skin show like a Vilma Banky or Theda Bara, but Patsy looked like she had a t-shirt with a gold vest sewn on. It was really odd. Also, Norman Kerry as Phoebus...he looked like my dad when he was younger, and that was cracking me up.

Gladys Brockwell was amazing. She played a younger woman in a flashback scene, and for the rest of the movie she was an old, haggard woman. I thought she was wonderful and I am so happy I got to finally see her in a film. She died 6 years after this film was made.

I had the 'pleasure' of listening to different people's remarks about Lon Chaney and the film itself. While standing in line outside to get my ticket, I learned that Lon died shortly after this film was made.........which, um, if true...what a hell of an actor! He came back from the dead and appeared in about 20 more movies! Incredible. The gentleman also said that a movie was made about Chaney starring James Cagney called, "Lon Chaney's Make Up Kit." *face palm* I didn't want to to but into his conversation because I didn't want to be THAT person, but thankfully another guy filled him in...which made me smile.

I did learn some interesting things about the film though when I got home and did some research about it. One of the first things I noticed was how the film was in kinda rough shape. And I am not talking about the usual scratches and such on old film, I mean it looked kinda worn. I found out by reading online that the condition isn't the best because it only exists in a 16mm format. And there is actually still about 15 minutes of the film that is considered lost.

Lon Chaney was a man who really became his characters. He kept one of his eyes covered with putty for the film everyday, which eventually led to him having to wear glasses for the rest of his life. He also developed some leg problems from the brace he wore to perfect the walk of the hunchback. What a guy!

The set for Notre Dame was so big and intricate, they decided to keep them up on the lot for all to see. Unfortunately, a fire during the 1960s destroyed the set. :(

There are reportedly some famous faces who worked as extras in the film. Gilbert Roland, Charles Farrell, and Elmo Lincoln are perhaps somewhere in there...I am just not Eagle Eye enough to spot them. Maybe you can! Let me know!

No comments:

Post a Comment