WHO KNEW EDMOND O'BRIEN WAS SUCH A HOTTIE!
This black & white, talking version of the "Hunchback of Notre Dame" was quite excellent not only from an acting standpoint but from a set design and costuming standpoint as well. Although the make-up used on Laughton was very, very crude, it was state of the art at the time, and, though a bit disappointing to modern eyes, it was his acting that carried the character, not the make-up, so you could easily ignore the crudity of it (besides it worked quite well in the middle and distance shots, just the close ups and extreme close shots revealed how bad the make-up really was). Addtionally, the plot line of this film differed from the original novel, and also Lon Chaney, Sr.'s earlier silent version, because of the political and social climate in which this movie was shot (Hitler was making himself felt in Europe at the time, human rights were going by the board wherever he conquered, and the screenplay writers decided to use that scenario in their story line), but I thought that plot difference worked in the film's favor and not against it. In all honesty, we actually purchased the DVD because we're big fans of Maureen O'Hara, who died last year, and this was her debut, at age 18, in U.S. films. But we had NO idea when we bought it that we would also discover just what a hottie her co-star, Edmond O'Brien, was in it due to HIS youthful beauty and it being HIS debut in films as well. He was just absolutely gorgeous!!! Hubba-hubba! Sadly, in his maturity he looked more like a craggy overweight old bear, having lost his youthful beauty by the time I became familiar with his work as an actor. Not that he wasn't handsome as he aged but it was obvious he must've drank to excess and smoked too much in his private life because it showed on his face and figure as he aged. But in "Hunchback" he was one real hottie! As well as an exuberant, idealistic, hopeful character with a big heart, if not a lot of brains behind it. And, of course, Charles Laughton as Quasimodo broke my heart on more than one occasion in the film. While Maureen O'Hara was heartbreakingly beautiful, and touchingly naïve, kind and compassionate as the lovely gypsy girl who tempted the wrong man. I would most definitely recommend this movie to anyone who enjoys classic films and the actors, designers, writers and directors who made them classics!