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Hunchback of Notre Dame [Blu-ray] (1923)

Lon Chaney  |  NR |  Blu-ray
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Lon Chaney
  • Format: Black & White, Silent, Subtitled
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Flicker Alley
  • DVD Release Date: March 18, 2014
  • Run Time: 112 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00I06G1K4
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #20,714 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Blackhawk Films has moved distribution over to Flicker Alley and this new HD transfer shows much improvement over the pervious, still good, Image DVD.

To understand this presentation, I will give a brief history lesson. In the 1920's 35mm was on Nitrate film but 16mm was on safety film.
Universal Pictures fortunately saw a value in the secondary markets and created a 16mm home movie division called "Universal Show At Home". These 16mm safety films were created directly from the 35mm Nitrate Negatives. The original tints from the 35mm theatrical run were also used in these early 16mm home movie prints. The print for this Blu-ray was manufactured in 1926.
Sadly when Sound Films over-threw Silent Films Universal, as well as many other studios, saw no value in their library of silent Nitrate films and had them destroyed. Many films that had not made it to the home movie market were lost.

The only surviving materials for this title are the 16mm tinted prints.

THE VIDEO QUALITY: While 16mm is not as sharp as 35mm, with the proper scanning it can give a very good Blu-ray image. And here it does. This is the best quality 16mm HD scan I have seen. Many times I felt I was watching a 35mm print. Since these early 16mm prints were made directly from the 35mm Nitrate Negative they are much sharper than the conventional 16mm prints that were made for Television (TV prints were made from 16mm safety negatives). It is apparent that by 1926 the original 35mm Nitrate negatives had suffered some wear in their brief 3 years of existence. Small white negative scratches & blemishes can be seen in many scenes.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
By Casey62
Victor Hugo's THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME has had several screen adaptations, but there's still a lot to be said for the 1923 Universal silent production starring the great Lon Chaney.

Chaney's performance as the deformed bell-ringer Quasimodo is a triumph of pantomime that emerges from behind arduously applied makeup. Chaney based his appearance exclusively on the illustrations in Hugo's novel, and his sensitivity and bodily contortions combine to make the physically ugly Quasimodo a genuinely sympathetic character.

Chaney is ably supported by a fine cast: Pretty Patsy Ruth Miller is memorable as Esmeralda, the gypsy whom Quasimodo hopelessly loves, Norman Kerry as Esmeralda's hero Phoebus, Ernest Torrence as Clopin, formidable leader of the beggars, and Brandon Hurst as Jehan, the evil cleric who lusts for Esmeralda. All were guided under the direction of Wallace Worsley, although Patsy Ruth Miller has said that Chaney had a hand in directing portions as well.

Just a thought about the acting: Silent films utilized pantomime in place of spoken dialog in order to communicate and express emotion. As such, it was perfectly suited to its purpose, requiring a complex combination of body control, concentration, and style on the part of the actor. There is nothing flawed or inferior about this kind of acting; it was merely an alternative method of performing that became a lost art with the advent of sound. HUNCHBACK shows why Lon Chaney is widely regarded as the finest practitioner of silent film acting technique.

The film's period authenticity is truly something to marvel at, even 91 years later. The sets representing 15th century Paris were meticulously designed and constructed and artfully photographed, so as to convey further the appearance of scale.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From "Ultimate" To Almost Definitive. March 14, 2014
Flicker Alley's new Blu-Ray release of the 1923 Lon Chaney HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME is an HD upgrade of the Image 2007 DVD "Ultimate Edition". My thanks to David Shepard and Blackhawk Films for having the source 16mm print and kudos to everyone responsible for making it look like this. It is unquestionably the best looking HUNCHBACK that I have ever seen and I've seen numerous versions. While there is no significant new footage, the film has been speed corrected and lots of scratches have been digitally cleaned up though not eliminated. This is an important point to note. Some will complain about the quality of the image (especially on Blu-Ray) but considering the source material, this is about as good as it's going to be without a 35mm print available.

What keeps it from being truly definitive is the music. Being the same as the 2007 version, I still have issues with the soundtrack. Although the score by Donald Hunsberger is good in and of itself, some of the music seems rather incongruous. Often it is too lighthearted and not sombre enough to enhance what's going on during the movie in certain sequences. Esmeralda's dancing in the opening and her rescue by Phoebus sound more like 19th century Vienna than 15th century France while the music for the climactic mob attack sounds like a Sousa march. A darker score like the one Ennio Morricone did for the 1912 RICHARD III (or the old 1999 Medieval score) would help to reduce the melodramatic elements of the story and some of the performances.

Lon Chaney remains a marvel as Quasimodo, fully inhabiting the character beneath the makeup and the natural speed transfer restores his performance to what it should be.
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