Something special this evening. Very special. Tonight's Saturday Night Cinema is the 1939 RKO classic, The Hunchback Of Notre Dame. This is the very best of the many film remakes of Victor Hugo's classic novel, with a haunting and unforgettable performance by Charles Laughton. It is a masterpiece.
In 15th century France, a gypsy girl is framed for murder by the infatuated Chief Justice, and only the deformed bellringer of Notre Dame Cathedral can save her.
Maureen O'Hara plays the beautiful Esmeralda. Only 19, she is flawless. This is a classic 'monster' movie, but the twist is that society is the monster, not the hunchback.
'A drink of water and a little pity.' Indeed.
This is one of the great films of 1939, a year widely considered the most outstanding one ever. Hollywood was at its apex. Dark Victory, Gone With the Wind, Goodbye, Mr. Chips, Love Affair, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Ninotchka, Of Mice and Men, Stagecoach, The Wizard of Oz and Wuthering Heights were all released in '39. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME, as adapted by Bruno Frank from the Victor Hugo novel; screen play by Sonya Levien; musical adaptation and original composition by Alfred Newman; directed by William Dieterle; produced by Pandro S. Berman for RKO-Radio,
Quasimodo . . . . . Charles Laughton
Frollo . . . . . Sir Cedric Hardwicke
Clopin . . . . . Thomas Mitchell
Esmeralda . . . . . Maureen O'Hara
Gringoire . . . . . Edmond O'Brien
Phoebus . . . . . Alan Marshal
Archbishop . . . . . Walter Hampden
Fleur's Mother . . . . . Katharine Alexander
King Louis XI . . . . . Harry Davenport
Procurator . . . . . George Zucco
Old Nobleman . . . . . Fritz Leiber
Doctor . . . . . Etienne Girardot
Fleur . . . . . Helene Whitney
Queen of Beggars . . . . . Minna Gombell
Olivier . . . . . Arthur Hohl
Beggar . . . . . George Tobias
Phillipo . . . . . Rod La Rocque
Court Clerk . . . . . Spencer Charters