The lives of numerous people over the course of 20 years in 19th century France, weaved together by the story of an ex-convict named Jean Valjean on the run from an obsessive police inspector, who pursues him for only a minor offense.
This is by far the best version of Les Misérables ever made in my opinion and the critics. Charles Laughton makes this movie, but literally every scene and every character add to this amazing film. If you have never seen a Charles Laughton movie this one will get you hooked. His portrayal of Inspector Javert is 2nd to none. He tracks the wanted man Jean Valjean throughout the movie and the twists and turns are so well done even you movie buffs will not see what's coming. The movie takes you through Valjeans life and many crossroads that shape his life. My words don't do this movie justice. This is a must see Drama. The scene with the priest always gets to me, be sure to catch all the dialog. This movie will make you laugh though it is not a comedy. It will make you mad. It will move your heart in a good way. You will become many of the characters as you watch the film. The less you know about the film the better in my opinion which is why my summary is so vague on details. You can ...Written by
This was the first of two adaptations of the novel to receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture. The second was Les Misérables (2012). See more »
Valjean's coat and cloak have dirt on them while at the White Sergeant, but is clean before and after that. See more »
[seeing an apparent stranger in the midst of the broiling student rebeels]
Who are you?
[absentmindedly as he looks in the crowd for Valjean]
What'd ya say?
I might be a spy, and I'm certainly the police.
[the students rush Javert and subdue him]
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Although you would not think so from reading some of the reviews here, the 1935 film version of "Les Miserables" is excellent and one of the best film versions of the novel, especially considering its 108 minute length. It is too much to ask a film that lasts a little less than two hours to pack in all the important incidents in a book that consists of more than 1,000 pages. No film has ever been able to do that, and three-hour American films, except for a couple of D.W. Griffith features, were virtually unheard of before 1936 (the year that "The Great Ziegfeld" was released).
Fredric March gives one of his finest performances as Jean Valjean---far better than Michael Rennie's pallid one in the 1952 remake-- and his voice reminds one not of Jimmy Stewart, but of John Barrymore, an actor to whom March was often compared to in his early days. Although he seems to be on the verge of overemoting once or twice, he can also be quite subtle and sardonic (just watch him in the scenes in which he implies that Javert has no idea of how to temper justice with mercy, or his performance in the scene in which he first meets Cosette at the inn). March, now virtually forgotten by today's younger generation, was easily one of the best actors of the twentieth century, whether on stage or screen, It is a pity that he never felt inclined to act in a Shakespeare play or film, a decision he himself came to regret.
Charles Laughton is equally as good as the vicious, single-minded, and in this version at least, neurotic Inspector Javert. Laughton's small touches, far from making his performance seem hammy, vividly illustrate the personality of a man so ashamed of his own parentage that he cannot bear to talk about it without seeming to be about to break into tears. If it had not been for his brilliant Captain Bligh in "Mutiny on the Bounty", released the same year as "Les Miserables", Laughton would almost certainly have been nominated for his performance as Javert.
John Beal and Rochelle Hudson are adequate as the lovers, although Beal is hardly anyone's idea of a sexy, dashing young man. Hudson's performance is infinitely preferable to the awful one given by the beautiful Debra Paget (best remembered as Joshua's love interest in "The Ten Commandments") in the 1952 remake of "Les Miserables". Eponine in this version is not portrayed as a prostitute, probably because of the censorship restrictions of that time, and Gavroche is completely eliminated from this version. Cedric Hardwicke, in a very small role, is fine if a little too syrupy, as the bishop who aids Valjean after he is released from prison.
The legendary Gregg Toland's photography is excellent, and the scenes in which Valjean serves in the galleys are frighteningly realistic for a major Hollywood film of this era (the scene in which March is beaten and begins screaming in pain is profoundly disturbing, and it recurrs later on in a nightmare).
The 1935 "Les Miserables" easily eclipses all later versions in English, and still stands as one of the best Hollywood versions of a literary masterpiece.
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