Les Miserables (1935)
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as Jean Valjean
as Insp. Javert
as Bishop Bienvenue
as Little Cosette
as Young Cosette
as Mme. Magloire
as Mother Superior
as Mother Superior
as Mme. Thenardier
as Mme. Baptiseme
as M. Devereux
as Head Gardener
Critic Reviews for Les Miserables
Charles Laughton in the part of Javert gave it as much character merely because the character as written was eminent, giving a balance to the whole story.
It isn't a bad example of the Hollywood prestige picture -- there is, at least, some liveliness in the performances.
Nominated for the Best Picture oscar, Boleslawki's adpaptation of the Victor Hugo famous novel is lavishly mounted and well acted by Fredric March and Charles Laughton
While there's no such thing as a timeless '30s Oscarbait literary adaptation, this comes pleasantly within spitting distance of that mark.
Audience Reviews for Les Miserables
This was my first exposure to Les Misérables, and I can see why the story is so popular. I'll certainly be watching the 2012 version shortly. The cast, first of all, is excellent. Fredric March gives a great performance in the lead role of Jean Valjean. He kind of represents a sort of compassionate people who understand that giving is more important than taking and that kindness is above the law. Opposite him is Charles Laughton as Inspector Javert, who believes in the law above all else. He's kind of a human manifestation of the law; he even turns himself in after he makes a minor mistake. I've been on the fence with Laughton until now - I loved him as Henry VIII and thought he was hit-and-miss in "Mutiny on the Bounty", but after seeing this I can't deny his gargantuan screen presence. He loses himself in his characters and steals every scene. "Les Misérables" is also technically excellent. Gregg Toland's cinematography is great to look at; there are some excellently framed shots, especially a climactic one where we see Javert following Jean's adopted daughter Cosette (Rochelle Hudson) as she turns into the estate where she lives with her "father". The score by Alfred Newman is also excellent. My only problem with the film is one I'd assume a lot of people have: it's too short. Brevity is fine and the movie is well paced, but coming from such a massive novel, this film feels like it has gaps in places that could've used a bit more explanation. Apart from that, it's an excellent black-and-white drama that's never boring.
This is one of few movies who's quality is determined largely subjectively. One side will assert that the questionable acting, disjointed editing and lack of music in most scenes are signs of an amateurish film and a symptom of cinema's early struggles with determining to what degree it should separate itself from theater. Others will assert that the questionable acting tells us that these people have experienced much grief even before the film starts and throughout the film, suggesting that they are not going to have overtly dramatic reactions to these events. Some will assert that the disjointed editing and lack of music makes the movie unsettling and haunting. All of these aspects together, they assert, drive a point home about how this story is not self-contained, but that this is a global societal justice issue. I am in the camp of the latter, I found this movie emotionally striking and impactful and definitely recommended.
The reason to watch is Charles Laughton. The rest of the production suffers from a lack of emotion. Is it the result of the era's creaky soundtrack.
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