Guillermo del Toro on

The Hunchback of Notre Dame ’39

Released 1939
Distributor RKO Radio Pictures

RKO’s biggest budget film to date remains one of the finest literary adaptations ever, and is arguably Charles Laughton’s greatest screen role. His protege Maureen O’Hara never looked more stunning as the gypsy girl. Among the actors considered for Quasimodo were Orson Welles, Bela Lugosi, Claude Rains, Robert Morley and Lon Chaney Jr., whose father made an indelible impression in the earlier silent version. Cedrick Hardwicke is creepy in the villain role intended for Basil Rathbone, and Edmond O’Brien is almost unrecognizably young and svelte in his first movie. This was the only picture shown at the first Cannes Film Festival, which was canceled when Hitler invaded Poland.

About Guillermo del Toro

Guillermo del Toro says he has “a fetish for insects, clockwork, monsters, dark places, and unborn things.” One of the major talents in modern cinema, the Mexican-born del Toro has directed a variety of memorable films, from comics adaptations (Hellboy and Blade II) to fantasy and horror (The Devil’s BackbonePan’s Labyrinth), all of which have been critically acclaimed. His breakout debut film, Cronos, began his long association with favorite actor Ron Perlman, who returned for Hellboy 2. His most recent film is 2013's summer blockbuster Pacific Rim. He is currently adapting his novel The Strain as a television series, due to premiere in Summer of 2014 on FX. His most revered monsters are Frankenstein’s monster and the Creature from the Black Lagoon, neither of whom are Catholic.