Friday, December 30, 2011

Hunchback of Notre Dame screens in SF New Years Eve

For more than a few years now, Grace Cathedral in San Francisco has screened a silent film on New Year’s Eve. The tradition continues in 2011 when the landmark Episcopal Church offers two screenings of the 1923 classic, The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

With legendary Lon Chaney in the title role, this early adaption of Victor Hugo's famous novel remains one of the most iconic films in cinema history. A critical and commercial blockbuster, The Hunchback of Notre Dame was one of the highest-grossing films of the silent film era. The film was a major production from the Universal Studio - where it was considered a "Super Jewel."

The Hunchback of Notre Dame tells the story of Quasimodo, a deformed, deaf and half-blind bell-ringer who lives in the famous Parisian cathedral. It was directed by Wallace Worsley and stars Chaney - "The Man of a Thousand Faces" - as Quasimodo and Patsy Ruth Miller as Esmeralda, his love interest. Also in the cast are notables Norman Kerry,Ernest Torrence, Tully Marshall, Raymond Hatton, and Gladys Brockwell.

The film is remarkable for many things, including its grand sets which recall Paris in the 15th Century. It is also remembered for Chaney's remarkable performance and spectacular make-up as the tortured bell-ringer. The film elevated Chaney, a well-known character actor at the time, to star status. It also helped raise the bar for many subsequent adaptations of horror films, including Chaney's The Phantom of the Opera just two years later.

Acclaimed organist Dorothy Papadakos will accompany The Hunchback of Notre Dame on the Cathedral’s 7,466 pipe Aeolian-Skinner organ. Papadakos came to international attention as organist at the world’s largest gothic cathedral, the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York, where she served from 1990-2003. Papadakos is also a member of the six-time Grammy Award-winning Paul Winter Consort, and is celebrated for her imaginative improvisations and compositions for theatre, film, television, and ballet - as well as for her silent film accompaniments.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame is a moving film – full of pathos, drama and atmosphere. And what’s more, the Gothic surroundings of Grace Cathedral and the film's musical accompaniment should lend themselves to a memorable viewing experience.

More info: Grace Cathedral is located at 1100 California (at Taylor) in San Francisco. New Year’s Eve screenings of The Hunchback of Notre Dame are set for 7:00 pm and 10:00 pm. The film runs 110 minutes. Additional information, including ticket availability, can be found at

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