Jean Valjean, a Frenchman of good character and great strength, is convicted of stealing a loaf of bread, an act that sets in motion a lifetime of misery for Valjean, as he is pursued by the uncompromising and brutal lawman Javert. Written by
Jim Beaver <email@example.com>
This adaptation from the famed Victor Hugo novel came to the screen at the end of Twentieth Century's existence as a separate film company before joining with Fox Films. Starring Fredric March as Valjean and Charles Laughton as Javert, it would be worth watching just for those two, who are at the height of their acting powers in this.
Others in the cast are Florence Eldridge (Mrs Fredric March) as Fantine, Rochelle Hudson as Cosette, John Beal as Marius (a bit of a wet fish), and Ferdinand Gottschalk as Thenardier. The novel is re-interpreted and expanded to include, for example, some sense of Cosette growing up in the care of Valjean. There are also some memorable visuals - notably the court scene where Valjean reveals his identity, and the shot of the handcuffs Javert leaves behind when he goes to his (off-screen) suicide.
A worthy adaptation of a memorable and complex novel. Less obvious that some versions which have appeared in later decades, this 30s film is probably the best adaptation that has been made.
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