Les Miserables - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Les Miserables Reviews

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ScoopOnline
Super Reviewer
December 12, 2009
The Original version of Les Miserables was not bad though the remakewith Gčrard Depardieu was alot better.
Super Reviewer
½ January 27, 2012
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.
April 24, 2015
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.
March 28, 2015
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.
½ February 1, 2014
Vaguely derived from the epic novel by Victor Hugo, this 1935 version of Les Miserables is subjected to the choppy edits and heavy bowdlerization that was suffered by many Hollywood films of the time. While quite dated, the movie does have a nice performance from Charles Laughton as Javert. It's too bad that the cinematography is so stilted and clunky. While the movie can be an interesting period piece for film buffs and/or social historians, there are a number of celluloid adaptations of Les Miserables. One would probably be better off with a different one.
September 15, 2012
Let the wolves beware

In the early 1900s a former French prisoner who has established nobility fails to appear for parole. A ruthless police officer tracks him down for over twenty years waiting for his opportunity to bring the nobleman down. The nobleman does nothing but great things for his countrymen. The goodness of the noblemen will not deter the policeman from executing his job.

"I only ask that you do not look for evil where none exists."

Richard Boleslawski, director of The Garden of Allah, Operator 13, Theodora Goes Wild, The Painted Veil (1935), and The Last of Mrs. Cheyney, delivers Les Miserable. The storyline for this picture is amazing. There is so much drama throughout the film and the characters are written and delivered so well. The cast delivers awesome performances and includes Fredric March, Charles Laughton, and Cedric Hardwicke.

"I spit on your nobilities."

I came across this picture while flicking through the channels and had to DVR it. I was mesmerized by the characters, both good and bad, throughout this entire picture. The story is so dramatic and compelling and the end is brilliant. This is a wonderful movie that I strongly recommend seeing and it is worth adding to your DVD collection.

"Money seems to go one way: out."

Grade: A+
½ November 14, 2010
A very solid adaptation of Victor Hugo's book, though some of the acting seems dated and stilted. (Young Cosette in particular is very difficult to watch.) Fredric March portrays an extremely human Valjean who is easy to sympathize with, and Charles Laughton is threatening and immovable as Javert. Aside from the overacting of some of the side characters, quite watchable.
½ October 13, 2010
This really old, American adaption of Les Mis is really compact and a little uneven at times. The story is presented in three parts. A large chunk of the story focuses on the Valjean's convict life which most adaptions leave out. March is a decent Valjean and Laughton is a very odd, if not interesting, Javert. Laughton seems very unlike the Javert you'd expect. His body shape is odd and his voice doesn't match what you'd think Javert's should sound like. Still, he's very good in some of his scenes. The movie runs a little afoul with the book in the last act. The last act is basically a lot of yelling with a few key scenes thrown in between. Overall, not too bad. A few scenes such as the bishop's scene and the final scene are very moving.
½ August 27, 2009
I cannot say I knew anything about Victor Hugo's novel prior to watching this (nor have I seen the hit Broadway musical play). I had no idea what this movie was going to be about...but this is exactly the reason why I enjoy watching classic films. It's instances like this when I come across one I hardly knew anything about - and it turns out to be an absolute gem!

What makes this especially a wonderful watch is the performances of the two main actors - Fredric March and Charles Laughton. Add to that the richly atmospheric cinematography of the legendary Gregg Toland and you have one very entertaining film. Nominated for Best Picture in 1935, LES MISERABLES would bow to yet another Charles Laughton film - MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY.

LES MISERABLES distills the main drama from Victor Hugo's mammoth novel into a breezy 108 minutes. The story centers around Jean Valjean (Fredric March) who is arrested for stealing a loaf of bread for his hungry family. Valjean's harsh sentence and imprisonment hardly fit his crime - and was Hugo's commentary on the injustice of the French legal system of that period. Some amazing sets here as Valjean serves time chained within a hold of a sailing vessel. Here too we are first introduced to Javert (Charles Laughton), a prison guard...whose life will eventually be intertwined with Valjean's for the next 20 years.

Also wonderful in a small but pivotal role is Cedric Hardwicke, as a kindly bishop who offers aid to the very bitter Valjean soon after his release from prison. Valjean is discriminated against due to his status as a former prisoner but for the bishop's act of kindness which would help turn Valjean's life around. Valjean becomes so successful, in fact, that he soon disregards his order to periodically report to police headquarters as a condition of his parole. This oversight will bring the obsessively dedicated lawman, Javert back into the story and hot on Valjean's tail.

This has got to be one of Laughon's better performances...and a must see for any of his fans.

9 / 10
August 14, 2007
the copy i have is grainy and getting a little old! I've had to renew with another dvd version with Liam Neison.
June 15, 2006
Why is this rated R?! Anyway, I'd need to watch it again to write a more detailed ,review, but it's a good adaptation of the classic novel.
December 1, 2005
I first saw this movie over 35 years ago, on the local night owl theatre (back in the day when El Paso only had the 3 network stations and 1 usable UHF station). While it seemed to run long, it was very powerful. Every actor was perfectly cast, and the injustice of a prison sentence for stealing a loaf of bread was a perfect hook. I became a Charles Laughton fan that night, and give the movie a perfect rating.
April 24, 2015
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.
March 28, 2015
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.
½ January 20, 2015
Una de las primeras versiones de la famosa obra de Victor Hugo, disfrutable en blanco y negro con un Charles Laughton como Jarvet que se roba la función.
April 17, 2014
Thursday, April 17, 2014

(1935) Les Miserables
VICTORIAN DRAMA

Although, there are so many versions told from many points of view, and from different standpoints, I can't seem to forget some of the scenes from this one at all, which is a non musical and a true reflection about what it was like living during the Victorian age. From the popular Victor Hugo novel starring Fredric March as Jean Valjean condemned to be prosecuted and stalked for missing his parole for stealing a loaf of bread by an officer who made it as part of an obsession by the name of Inspector Javert played by the brilliant Charles Laughton. A realistic point of view of a Charles Dickens play of "A Christmas Carol" using the words of charity and compassion, as well as frank Capra's "It's A Wonderful Life".

4 out of 4 stars
½ February 1, 2014
Vaguely derived from the epic novel by Victor Hugo, this 1935 version of Les Miserables is subjected to the choppy edits and heavy bowdlerization that was suffered by many Hollywood films of the time. While quite dated, the movie does have a nice performance from Charles Laughton as Javert. It's too bad that the cinematography is so stilted and clunky. While the movie can be an interesting period piece for film buffs and/or social historians, there are a number of celluloid adaptations of Les Miserables. One would probably be better off with a different one.
December 14, 2013
Frederic March is great in this one but Charles Laughton steals the show. Much more enjoyable without the musical adaptation (just my opinion). Well done version of Victor Hugo's novel.
April 15, 2013
A beautifully crafted film that will last through the ages.
February 7, 2013
Brilliant distillation of the novel, with solid acting all around. Frederic March, Charles Laughton and Cedric Hardwick give career-defining performances.
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