Patsy Ruth Miller


Directed by               Wallace Worsley
Produced by             Carl Laemmle, Irving Thalberg
Written by                Novel:  Victor Hugo
Screenplay                Edward T. Lowe, Jr., Perley Poore Sheehan
Starring                     Lon Chaney, Patsy Ruth Miller, Ernest Torrence, Norman Kerry
Cinematography       Robert Newhard, Tony Kornman
Editing by                  Edward Curtiss, Maurice Pivar, Sydney Singerman
Distributed by           Universal Pictures
Release date               September 2, 1923
Running time             117 min
Country                      United States
Language                    Silent film, English intertitles


We have included this film in our program to illustrate the work and contributions of our star Patsy Ruth Miller.


"The Hunchback of Notre Dame" is a historical drama based on Victor Hugo's novel.  It is the film, in which Patsy Ruth Miller played her most famous and critically acclaimed role.  Lon Chaney is powerful as ever, and with this film achieved a true star status.  Norman Kerry, Ernest Torrence and the supporting cast deliver fine performances as well.

Lon Chaney creates the character of Quasimodo, a crippled man who is disfigured, half blind and rejected by society.  He is prominent in ringing the big cathedral bells, especially on occasion of poor souls meeting their death sentences.  Esmeralda, played by Patsy Ruth Miller, is an orphan girl raised by the ruler of the poor masses Clopin (Ernest Torrence).  He makes her dance in the streets for the crowds to earn her living. 

The archdeacon's brother is an evil scheming man, who has set his eyes on Esmeralda.  He manipulates Quasimodo into trying to kidnap Esmeralda, but when the crippled man is arrested, the bad guy leaves without a trace.  She is rescued by the man she adores, Captain Phoebus, played by Norman Kerry.  For him she is just another girl for his amorous conquests, but when he takes her to dinner and finds out about her life story, he is filled with remorse.  Little by little he falls in love with her.

For the attempted kidnapping Quasimodo is sentenced to public lashing.  The crowds rejoice the spectacle, but there is one soul  that pities the poor man: Esmeralda.  She brings him water to alleviate this thirst and puts on his shirt to soothe the pain from the scorching sun.  He will remember the girl that was good to him and will be filled with hatred for the man who betrayed him.

Captain Phoebus invites Esmeralda to the royal ball on occasion of his promotion.  He dresses her as a noble lady, but when the king of the beggars finds out, he mobilizes the crowds to attack the royal palace.  Fearing for her boyfriend's life, Esmeralda publicly declares that she doesn't love him. He is heartbroken, but later she sends him a note arranging a last farewell. 

During their date the evil guy stabs the captain and disappears.  In the commotion Esmeralda is arrested and accused of attempted murder.  Later the court rejects her protests, subjects her to inquisition to confess, and sentences her to death by hanging.
When Esmeralda is taken to die, Quasimodo rescues her and she finds sanctuary in the cathedral.  The evil man, however, succeeds in instigating the ruler of the poor to arm a rebellion of the masses to liberate Esmeralda, his true purpose being the usurpation of power. 
Things turn for the worse, however, as Quasimodo assumes that the charging masses want to hurt Esmeralda, and he fights back, waging a real war with sticks and stones and molten lead.  The royal guard is also called and the unarmed rebels retreat in disarray.  The evil man tries to take advantage of the confusion and attacks Esmeralda.  She fights him off desperately,  but is subdued with brutal force.  She calls Quasimodo for help as her last hope.  He throws the bad guy from the terrace of the cathedral to his death, but is fatally stabbed.  Esmeralda and Captain Phoebus reunite.
The film is ranked number 41 in the list of The Top 100 Silent Era Films of the influential website Silent Era.
It has a nice rating in IMDB.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923) on IMDb



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Lon Chaney and Patsy Ruth Miller in The Hunchback of Notre Dame 1923 22

   Lon Chaney and Patsy Ruth Miller