The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923) Blu-ray (Updated)
Posted January 25, 2014 11:43 PM by Webmaster
Independent U.S. distributors Flicker Alley have confirmed that they will release on Blu-ray Wallace Worsley's The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923), starring Lon Chaney, Patsy Ruth Miller, Norman Kerry, and Kate Lester. The release will be available for purchase in February.
Gothic drama in which the hideously deformed bell-ringer Quasimodo (Lon Chaney) lives in the bell-towers of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. He strikes out viciously at the city folk after their constant taunting, but is saved from their wrath by a beautiful gypsy girl, Esmeralda (Patsy Ruth Miller). When she is accused of stabbing her lover, Quasimodo spirits her away into the bell-tower, but their friendship ends in tragedy.
Audio commentary track with Chaney scholar and professional make-up artist Michael Blake
Rare behind-the-scenes footage with Lon Chaney out of makeup on the Cathedral set (1:40)
Alas and Alack (short one-reel film from 1939 in which Chaney plays a hunchback) (13:17)
Dynamic HD photo gallery with over 50 original production and publicity stills
Essay by Chaney scholar and professional make-up artist Michael Blake
The 1939 version is superior, but the real problem with the Chaney version is that there are no known existing prints of any quality. Neither the original negative or any original 35mm prints are known to survive. The source for all home video versions are a few surviving 16mm prints made for home use in the 20's and 30's, then copied and reissued in the 60's and 70's by Blackhawk. Some releases have looked better than others, but they're all fairly poor -- soft and contrasty.
I'd love to have a really good print of this -- with PQ like like Metropolis or The General -- but that's highly unlikely. I'm anxious to see what they ARE able to do with it.
There is no comparison IMO. The 39' version was a remake of this more popular 23' version. As much as I love Charles Laughton, Chaney is much better in this role and this was the film that rocketed him to stardom. The problem here with this release is that the film only survives in 16mm prints. While I can't wait to see if HD brings out any detail I'm doubtful that detail won't be anything but added noise.
Perhaps on the of the most unimaginative covers I've seen. I will, however, wait to see if it's a significant improvement of the the Image/Blackhawk films DVD. It was VERY good and this looks to be basically an updated version of that release, with an awful cover.
rollinwith26s, the movie IS a treasure, and it's great that you've discovered it now. Its only a shame it exists in less than desirable condition, but the previous Image DVD was and is leap years beyond what's been available until it made its appearance. Looks like they are using the same source print, but with some digital cleanup as well this time around. Its should be pretty nice.
The best packaging ever was the old Image laserdisc, which came with a reproduction of the original souvenir program book.