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The Hunchback of Notre-Dame

The Hunchback of Notre-Dame(1957)

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NOTES

powered by AFI

The working titles of this film were The Hunchback, Hunchback of Paris and Notre Dame of Paris. According to a April 24, 1956 Daily Variety news item, RKO still owned the rights to the title The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and so producers Robert and Raymond Hakim were at that time calling their film first The Hunchback and then Notre Dame of Paris. By June 20, 1956, according to a Hollywood Reporter news item, the brothers were able to change the title to The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. The film's opening title cards read: "Gina Lollobrigida, Anthony Quinn in Victor Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre-Dame." Although all other contemporary sources refer to the film without a hyphen in the title, the onscreen credits do list it as "Notre-Dame." The opening cast credits differ in order from the closing credits.
       Voice-over narration at the beginning of the film explains that author Victor Hugo became fascinated with Notre Dame and the Greek word "Anaykh" carved into one of the cathedral's stones. The word, meaning evil destiny, was used by Hugo to develop the story of the hunchback. Voice-over narration closes the film with a description of Quasimodo's final act of faith and love for Esmerelda. Years after Quasimodo laid down beside Esmerelda's dead body in the city's vaulted tomb, when others attempted to separate the two entwined skeletons, they turned to dust.
       As noted in the Hollywood Reporter review of the film, portions of the film were dubbed into English. The Hunchback of Notre-Dame was shot on location in and around Paris; Notre Dame itself was not used, however, as it was too fragile to sustain the production. According to a July 1, 1956 Los Angeles Examiner article, a replica of Notre Dame cathedral was built in a Paris studio for the film's production. For information on other film versions of Hugo's story, please consult the entry for the RKO 1939 version, by the same title, directed by William Dieterle and starring Charles Laughton in AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40.