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Les Miserables (1952)

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A parole violator in early 19th Century France is relentlessly pursued and persecuted by an obsessive policeman.

Director:

Lewis Milestone

Writers:

Richard Murphy (screenplay), Victor Hugo (novel)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Michael Rennie ... Jean Valjean
Debra Paget ... Cosette
Robert Newton ... Etienne Javert
Edmund Gwenn ... Bishop Courbet
Sylvia Sidney ... Fantine
Cameron Mitchell ... Marius
Elsa Lanchester ... Madame Magloire
James Robertson Justice ... Robert
Joseph Wiseman ... Genflou
Rhys Williams ... Brevet
Florence Bates ... Madame Bonnet
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Storyline

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 duke1029

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Exactly as Victor Hugo wrote it! See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Latin

Release Date:

14 August 1952 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Jean Valjean See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$2,398,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Twentieth Century Fox See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Elsa Lanchester, who plays Madame Magloire, was married to Charles Laughton, the Etienne Javert of the 1935 version of Les Misérables (1935). See more »

Quotes

Etienne Javert: For the police it is never too late. If he's escaped us tonight then what of tomorrow? Or next week or next year? We are patient men, Robert, and there is no escape.
See more »

Connections

Version of The Bishop's Candlesticks (1913) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Michael Rennie is impressive as the haunted Jean Valjean...
10 September 2012 | by DoylenfSee all my reviews

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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