The “Sanctuary!” scene from the classic 1939 version of Victor Hugo’s “Hunchback of Notre Dame,” starring Charles Laughton as Quasimodo and Maureen O’Hara as Esmeralda.
“Hunchback” was the only movie screened at the very first Cannes Film Festival, as the remainder of the festival was cancelled when Adolf Hitler invaded Poland on September 1st, 1939. The bell-ringing scene was Laughton’s response to impending war. The actor later said he rang the bells actually wanting “to arouse the (real) world, to stop that terrible butchery!”
“It is absurd to speak of Laughton’s Quasimodo as a great performance, as if that were some quantifiable assessment. It is acting at its greatest; it is Laughton at his greatest; it is a cornerstone of this century’s dramatic achievement; it is a yardstick for all acting.”
– SIMON CALLOW, NY Times 1988