Jean Valjean, a Frenchman imprisoned for stealing bread, must flee a police officer named Javert. The pursuit consumes both men's lives, and soon Valjean finds himself in the midst of the ... See full summary »
The scene is set during the French Restoration at the beginning of the 19th century. Jean Valjean, a galley slave who was sent to prison for stealing food, is now released after serving ... See full summary »
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)
I pride myself on being a good officer.
That's very good. Only I'm afraid you'll get little practice here, Inspector Javert. We're a quiet town.
I have heard this, yet there is crime everywhere, monsieur.
And filth also if one looks hard enough.
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Michael Rennie and Robert Newton have a go at playing the classic roles of Jean Valjean and Inspector Javert in another version of Les Miserables. The story was far better told on Broadway and in the 1935 film with Fredric March and Charles Laughton.
Not the fault of the actors, Michael Rennie is the restrained voice of civilized humanity in Jean Valjean, proof that a man can overcome a bad start in life and make a contribution to mankind's betterment. Holding the opposite view of course is Robert Newton as the ruthless Inspector Javert who in fact did have a bad upbringing, the child of a convict, but refuses to believe that anyone else can. His negative view of mankind doesn't bring anyone any love in their lives. This I've always felt is the key to Javert be he played by Charles Laughton or Robert Newton.
What I didn't like and was not in the March/Laughton version was the idea that the Valjean character had more than a fatherly interest in Cosette, the child of the doomed Fantine who Valjean adopts. Those are the major female roles in Les Miserables and are played here by Debra Paget and Sylvia Sidney respectively and well. I don't think it was necessary at all to have Paget's young suitor, revolutionary student Cameron Mitchell make that accusation.
It's not a bad film, but after March and Laughton this one seems like a local stock company production.
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