AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Director: William Dieterle (Dir)
Release Date:   29 Dec 1939
Duration (in mins):  115 or 117
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Cast: Charles Laughton  (Quasimodo)
  Sir Cedric Hardwicke  (Frollo)
  Thomas Mitchell  (Clopin)

Summary: Ignorance, cruelty and superstition pervade France of the fifteenth century. Frollo, the King's high justice, exploits these evils, persecuting the gypsies and opposing any mode of progress. When the lovely gypsy dancer Esmeralda is threatened by the King's men, she seeks refuge in a church, Notre Dame, where she meets the grotesque hunchback Quasimodo. Frollo, who is Quasimodo's guardian, orders the hunchback to take the girl captive, and Esmeralda, terrified, escapes to the underworld of Clopin and his beggars. There, she saves the life of the poet Gringoire by consenting to take him as her husband, although she truly loves the soldier Phoebus. Frollo lusts after Esmeralda, however, and, unable to tolerate her love for Phoebus, kills his rival. Esmeralda is arrested for the crime, and Frollo, claiming that the girl had bewitched him with the power of Satan, demands her life. As Esmeralda is marched to die on the gallows, Quasimodo leaps from the building above and carries her to the sanctuary of the church. Not to be denied Esmeralda's life, Frollo incites the nobles to deny sanctuary, and the beggars, concerned for the girl's safety, storm the church. Amid the chaos, Frollo enters the church. Justice is finally served as Quasimodo hurls Frollo to his death from the bell tower. 

Distribution Company: RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Production Company: RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Director: William Dieterle (Dir)
  Will Price (Dial dir)
  Argyle Nelson (Asst dir)
  Edward Killy (Asst dir)
  Peter Berneis (Asst to William Dieterle)
  Erich Pommer Jr. (Asst to William Dieterle)
  Michael Audley (Asst to William Dieterle)
Producer: Pandro S. Berman (Prod)
Writer: Sonya Levien (Scr)
  Bruno Frank (Adpt)

Subject Major: France--History--Medieval period
  Romantic rivalry
Subject Minor: Beggars
  Falls from heights
  False accusations
  Wards and guardians

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
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