The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939)

USA, 1939
35mm film, black and white [computer colourised version also available], 1.37:1
mono (RCA Victor System), English

An American horror film directed by William Dieterle.

Plot Summary

Frollo, the Chief Justice to King Louis XI, has designs on the gypsy girl Esmeralda and despatches Quasimodo, the hunchbacked bell-ringer at Notre Dame cathedral, to capture her. But Quasimodo is caught in the act by Phoebus, Captain of the Guards and he is sentenced to be flogged in public. As he waits his fate, tied to a stone block in the square, Esmerelda visits him to give him water. But then she is framed for killing Phoebus by Frollo and sentenced to hang…


* = uncredited

Directed by: William Dieterle
Copyright MCMXXXIX [1939] RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc. presents Victor Hugo's immortal classic
Produced by: Pandro S. Berman
Screen Play by: Sonya Levien
Adaptation by: Bruno Frank
Novel: Notre-Dame de by Victor Hugo [credited as “Victor Hugo's immortal classic]
Assistant Directors: Argyle Nelson, Edward Killy
Dialogue Director: Will Price
Director of Photography: Joseph H. August
Edited by: William Hamilton, Robert Wise
Musical Adaptation: Alfred Newman
Recorded by: John E. Tribby
Costumes by: Walter Plunkett
Make Up: George Bau, Gordon Bau, Robert J. Schiffer [all uncredited]
Special Effects by: Vernon L. Walker
Titles Background Paintings: Chesley Bonestell *
Art Director: Van Nest Polglase
Associate [Art Director]: Al Herman
Set Decorations by: Darrell Silvera
Assistant to William Dieterle: Peter Berneis
Dance Director: Ernst Matray
Technical Advisor: Louis Vandenecker
Stunts: Dick Crockett, George Suzanne, Sailor Vincent [all uncredited]

Charles Laughton as the hunchback [opening credits] (Quasimodo [end credits])
Sir Cedric Hardwicke (Frollo)
Thomas Mitchell (Clopin)
Maureen O'Hara (Esmeralda)
Edmond O'Brien (Gringoire)
Alan Marshal (Phoebus)
Walter Hampden (Archdeacon)
Harry Davenport (King Louis XI)
Katharine Alexander (Madame de Lys)
George Zucco (Procurator)
Fritz Leiber (old nobleman)
Etienne Girardot (doctor)
Helene Whitney (Fleur de Lys)
Mina Gombell (Queen of Beggars)
Arthur Hohl (Olivier)
Curt Bois (student)
George Tobias (beggar)
Rod LaRocque (Phillipe)
Spencer Charters (court clerk)
Kathryn Adams (Fleur's companion)
Dianne Hunter (Fleur's companion)
Siegfried Arno (tailor)

Alternative Titles

Dzwonnik z Notre Dame – Poland
Esmeralda, la zÍngara – Spain
El Geperut de Notre-Dame – Spanish Catalan title
Der Glöckner von Notre Dame
– Austria, Germany
Klokkeren fra Notre Dame
– Denmark
Notre Dame
– Italy
Notre Damen kellonsoittaja
– Finland
– France
Ringaren i Notre Dame
– Sweden

See also
Big Man on Campus (1989)

Extracts included in
100 Years at the Movies (1994)
AFI's 100 Years, 100 Passions (2002)
That's Action (1977)



  • Classic Images no.102 (December 1983) pp.57-59 – review
  • The Dark Side no.64 p.26 – review
  • Fangoria no.151 (April 1996) pp.36, 37 – illustrated note
  • Kine Weekly no.1711 (1 February 1940) – review
  • Kine Weekly no.2586 (7 March 1957) p.19 – credits, review
  • Monthly Film Bulletin vol.7 no.74 (February 1940) p.21 – credits, synopsis, review
  • Motion Picture Herald vol.137 no.12 (23 Decemebre 1939) – review
  • Radio Times 1-7 April 2000 p.73 – review (by Tony Sloman)
  • Télérama no.1839 (10 April 1985) pp.94-95 – review
  • Today's Cinema vol.54 no.4371 (31 January 1940) – review
  • Today's Cinema vol.75 no.6128 (20 November 1950) p.6 – review