In Greece during the war a small group of British commandoes and patriots land on an island with orders to attack two airfields from which the Luftwaffe is threatening allied forces in ... See full summary »
The story begins with Jean Valjean as a humble worker endeavoring to provide for his invalid mother. They live in a squalid home, made more wretched by his inability to provide sufficient ... See full summary »
Toni Le Brun, a beautiful Viennese singer, becomes the ward of the wardrobe mistress of a Monte Carlo nightclub. Her benefactor, however, is actually a baroness incognito. Toni falls in ... See full summary »
Jean Valjean, an old man whose life has been nearly destroyed by his pursuit by an implacable lawman, Javert, for a minor infraction years before, finds himself and his adopted daughter ... See full summary »
Fernando A. Rivero
After stealing a loaf a bread to feed a starving family, Jean Valjean is sentenced to ten years at hard labor as a galley slave. There he is taught to read and write by another prisoner and meets Javert, an obsessive policeman who was himself born to convict parents aboard a prison ship. After his release, Valjean is treated as a pariah but finally finds shelter in the home of a kindly bishop. Valjean repays the clergyman's generosity by stealing his silver plate. He is apprehended by the authorities and returned to the bishop but is amazed when the kindly old priest tells them that the valuable plates were a gift. This becomes a transforming experience for the ex-convict, who establishes himself under an assumed name in a small country village as factory manager and ultimately mayor. Unfortunately the newly-promoted Javert is assigned there as chief inspector. Although he doesn't recognize his old nemesis at first, the two clash over Javert's overzealous prosecution of the letter of ... Written by
Gabe Taverney (email@example.com)
Michael Rennie is impressive as the haunted Jean Valjean...
This may not be the best version of LES MISERABLES, but it certainly can be recommended on the basis of a strong performance from Michael Rennie who easily gives the most interesting and sympathetic performance in the film. A considerably restrained Robert Newton is the hated Javert hunting him down. Newton, usually a superb villain, fails to make the sort of villainous impact Charles Laughton made in an earlier version of the story.
Unconvincing and simply there as window dressing is Debra Paget as Cosette. Likewise, Cameron Mitchell is stiff and lifeless as the young man who falls in love with her, which surprised me because he is a talented actor who made much better impressions in other films. He seems badly miscast here.
Much of the story has been altered in this version, but whenever the concentration is on the story of the haunted central character the film is lifted to another dimension. Rennie as the convict in the early sequences is especially good at conveying all the pain and humiliation his character feels.
Too bad that subplots take away from some of the story's strength, especially the one involving Sylvia Sydney's character which is probably among the weakest roles of her career. Her reunion scene with daughter Cosette is almost laughable.
A deeper, more penetrating exploration of Valjean and Javert would have given the film a stronger feel. Production-wise, Fox has given the film all the technical values it needed with some fine B&W photography and settings, but it all comes across as a superficial version of the original story.
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