"The Hunchback of Notre Dame is a two-hour nightmare. It's murderous, hideous and repulsive." - Variety review (1923)
No self-respecting monster lover could go through the year without recognizing the 90th anniversary of the release of Lon Chaney's THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME. Premiering on 6 September 1923, the movie was a split decision with the critics and a huge success with theater-goers, even when it showed a half-a-dozen years later.
Like many movie histories, THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME is subject to many extravagant and erroneous assumptions that find life with repetition over time. Here are a few fact-check "Hunch-facts" that have been researched from reliable sources:
- The hump on Chaney's back is said to have weighed up to 75 pounds! The truth is, it was a molded plaster cast that weighed about 20 pounds.
- It is unknown how much box office earnings were, but it was at least $1.5 million.
- Chaney's version was not the first time the story had been adapted for the screen. It had at least 6 previous versions, in varying lengths.
- Chaney originally wanted to not only star in the movie, but produce it as well. However, he could not raise enough money for an independent venture.
- More than 2,000 extras were used on the film. The logistics of feeding so many people was a production in itself!
- Famed columnist Louella Parsons reported that a stage adaption of the film was considered, but according to Chaney he felt it wouldn't work.
- After it's first showing in 1923, the film was re-released and replayed for the next six years.
- Scenes showing the Hunchback crawling on the facade of the Notre Dame cathedral were not always Chaney. At least one stuntman, body-builder Joe Bonamo, was used.