Bells Are Ringing

In a blessedly inspired pairing of venue and program, Lon Chaney makes the heavy church bells chime twice tonight in the skyscraping religious landmark and tourist destination astride Nob Hill. (No, we don’t mean the Top of the Mark.) The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Victor Hugo’s magnificent medieval saga of a Gypsy and a cripple ensnared by the state’s corrupt powermongers, was first brought to the screen in 1923. A masterwork of the silent era, director Wallace Worsley’s crowning achievement boasts breathtaking sets, Chaney’s balls-out performance and the timeless, wrenching drama of Quasimodo and Esmerelda. Adding further luster to a one-of-a-kind New Year’s Eve affair, the internationally celebrated Dorothy Papadakos accompanies the parade of double-crosses, affronts to justice, and heroic sacrifices with a stirring improvised score on the cathedral’s massive Aeolian-Skinner pipe organ. If a tinkling piano bar’s more your style, there’s one at the Top of the Mark.
Wed., Dec. 31, 7 & 10 p.m., 2008

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