Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Eric Peterson, Oct 11, 2001.

  1. Eric Peterson

    Eric Peterson Cinematographer

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    I watched most of this movie for the first time last night on TCM and had a few questions arise.
    1) Most of the movie was shown in sepia tone, but some was in black and white. I couldn't make any correlation as to why. Is this simply due to the state of the film's preservation or was it intentional?
    2) During several scenes there were sound-effects (i.e. crowd noise, and whip cracks), were these effects added in recently or done for a theatrical re-release years ago? This leads to my next question.
    3) Was there an intended score when this movie was originally released that was provided to theater owners or was the music created by local musicians and if so who wrote the score that is now attached to the movie and when was it recorded?.
    Any information is greatly appreciated.
     
  2. Peter M Fitzgerald

    Peter M Fitzgerald Screenwriter

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    Eric,
    1) The tinting was intentional, not a by-product of film preservation. Tints were used for purposes of mood, or to signify a time of day. Night scenes are often tinted blue, for example. What tints are used, and when, are choices made by the original filmmakers; this wasn't an example of some modern people thinking an old black & white film would look better with some color, ala Ted Turner.
    2) The sound effects were added later on...likely not recently, but probably in the 1950s or 1960s. Recorded sound effects weren't originally part of silent films until the late 1920s, around the same time as the first actual "talking pictures".
    3) That music used on the TCM broadcast of HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME wasn't the original score, it was an assortment of stock background music, most likely from the 1950s. I recognized some of it as the same music heard in THE BLOB (1958), from when the old man discovers the blob in the meteorite near his shack! This wasn't TCM's doing; Sci-Fi Channel used to air this same print of HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME a few years ago, with the exact same 1950s stock music.
    Not that I'm an expert on this subject, but I hope I've answered your questions. Nice to see someone here taking an interest in silent films & Lon Chaney for the first time.
     
  3. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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  4. Eric Peterson

    Eric Peterson Cinematographer

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    Thanks for the information guys. I recorded all of the Chaney movies the other night (The Monster, The Unknown, and West of Zanzibar) and am looking forward to the Tod Browning tribute night on the 23rd. Most of these movies are very hard to come by. I have been looking for "The Unholy Three" for several years now and I'm finally going to see it.
     
  5. SteveGon

    SteveGon Executive Producer

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    I would LOVE to see Criterion get the rights to these films. A Lon Chaney boxed set...
    ------------------
    He thought on homeland, the big timber, the air thin and chill all the year long. Tulip poplars so big through the trunk they put you in mind of locomotives set on end. He thought of getting home and building him a cabin on Cold Mountain so high that not a soul but the nighthawks passing across the clouds in autumn could hear his sad cry. Of living a life so quiet he would not need ears. And if Ada would go with him, there might be the hope, so far off in the distance he did not even really see it, that in time his despair might be honed off to a point so fine and thin that it would be nearly the same as vanishing.
    -- Charles Frazier, Cold Mountain
     

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