Film / The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Top to bottom, Lon Chaney (1923), Charles Laughton (1939), Anthony Quinn (1956)

There have been numerous live-action film versions of The Hunchback of Notre Dame:

The American 1923 black-and-white silent version produced by Universal featured Lon Chaney as Quasimodo.

The American 1939 black-and-white sound version produced by RKO Pictures featured Charles Laughton as Quasimodo and Maureen O'Hara as Esmeralda.

The French-Italian 1956 color version produced by Paris Film Productions and Panitalia featured Anthony Quinn as Quasimodo and Gina Lollobrigida as Esmeralda. It is probably the closest to the book.

The British-American 1982 version produced by Norman Rosemont and Malcolm J. Christopher featured Anthony Hopkins as Quasimodo and Derek Jacobi as Frollo.

The 1997 television film produced by Stephane Reichel and directed by Peter Medak featured Mandy Patinkin as Quasimodo, Salma Hayek as Esmeralda and Richard Harris as Frollo.

For the Disney version, click here.

These films provide examples of:

  • Adapted Out:
    • Sister Gudule/Paquette only appears in the 1923 film. In all other adaptations (live-action and animated), Esmeralda is a gypsy by birth.
    • Jehan does not appear in either the 1982 or 1997 versions.
  • Adaptational Heroism:
    • In the 1923 and 1939 films, Claude Frollo mixes this with Decomposite Character. He is a saintly archdeacon, his villainous role instead given to his brother Jehan.
    • It turns out that Phoebus genuinely loves Esmeralda in the 1923 version. There was some confusion because he still was presented as a womanizer.
  • Adaptational Name Change: Jehan Frollo is renamed John in the 1939 film.
  • Battering Ram: In all versions, Quasimodo drops a long piece of wood onto the rabble attacking Notre Dame and the rabble use it as an improvised battering ram.
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • In the 1939 version Esmeralda escapes execution and goes off to be with Gringoire. Quasimodo remains in the cathedral, totally alone. The film ends with him caressing a gargoyle and asking "why was I not made of stone like thee?"
    • In the 1923, 1982 and 1997 versions Esmeralda is still alive and Frollo has been killed, but Quasimodo is dead.
  • Chekhov's Gun: In the 1939 film workmen specifically mention a vat of molten lead. Later Quasimodo uses it to fend off the mob.
  • Chronic Villainy: In the 1997 film, after being forced to publicly confess and being forgiven by Quasimodo, a newly reformed Frollo relapses into homicidal madness upon seeing Esmeralda.
  • Counting to Three: In the 1939 version, when confronted with a begger who refuses to pay his share into the common fund, Clopin gives him to the count of three to reconsider — and stabs him just as he says, "Three."
  • Death by Adaptation: Frollo's stabbing of Phoebus is fatal in the 1939 version.
  • Demoted to Extra: In the 1997 version, Phobeus is just a nameless guard (Frollo frames Esmeralda for killing a minister who supports the printing press). He has a more sizable role in the 1939 version, but is killed by Frollo halfway through the film.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Quasimodo in the 1939 film (in all the others, his death makes this trope moot.)
  • Downer Ending: The 1956 version, which is true to the book's ending.
  • Feel No Pain: In the 1939 film, when Quasimodo is whipped, he shows no signs of pain. Onlookers are stunned.
  • The Grotesque: Quasimodo in all versions. Anthony Quinn's version is by far the least grotesque.
  • Help Mistaken for Attack: In the 1997 version, Quasimodo fights off the men Frollo hires to kidnap Esmeralda. Unfortunately, he does this before the soldiers arrive, so they believe that he's the one at fault, and refuse to listen when Gringoire tells them that Quasimodo is innocent.
  • High-Altitude Interrogation: In the 1997 version, Quasimodo holds Frollo over the edge of Notre Dame, in order to make him confess to the murder for which Esmeralda was blamed.
  • Historical-Domain Character: The 1923, 1939, 1956 and 1997 versions feature King Louis XI of France.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Quasimodo does this to Frollo in the 1982 version.
  • Kick the Dog: In the 1956 version, the man who administers Quasimodo's flogging drinks from his pitcher of water, then Jehan Frollo refills it...before placing it only inches away from Quasimodo, who is unable to reach it. Happily, Esmeralda gives him a drink.
  • Murder by Mistake: In the 1997 film, Frollo picks up a dagger to kill Esmeralda; Quasimodo intervenes and is unintentionally and fatally stabbed as a result.
  • My Eyes Are Up Here: The 1939 version has sexually frustrated villain Frollo staring at Esmeralda's breasts when they meet for the first time.
  • The Penance: Frollo whips himself severely several times in the 1997 film, in a vain attempt to curb his desire for Esmeralda.
  • Promoted to Love Interest: In the 1997 version, Gringoire is the one Esmeralda falls in love with, as she has little to no contact with Phoebus.
  • Right-Hand Cat: Frollo keeps several cats in his study in the 1939 film.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Quasimodo in the 1939 version, and Esmeralda in the 1923, 1939, 1982 and 1997 versions.
  • A Taste of the Lash: Quasimodo gets flogged in all versions. Frollo does this to himself in the 1997 version.
  • Victoria's Secret Compartment: Where Esmeralda puts the coin King Louix XI throws her in the 1939 film.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: After Esmeralda is released, the rioters end their siege of Notre Dame and happily escort her through Paris. Their dead and dying comrades are quickly forgotten.