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
A very good but not GREAT version with the exception of the great Robert Newton as Javert.
The REAL reason to see this film is to watch Robert Newton as Javert. Javert was a gypsy born in prison who, by shear force of will on his part, has gotten himself into a position of power. He is inflexible and Spartan in his life style and expects as much or more of himself than he does his acquaintances, (he has no friends), and those he rules over.
The problem with the film is that Michael Rene is nothing like Hugo's massive peasant, Valjean. Jean Valjean was a stocky, broad-shouldered, barrel-chested man of only average height and a low center of gravity, Not the tall, slender, elegant Rene. AND, Rene was only an average actor. Deborah Paget couldn't act at all, she was there for pure decoration value.
See this film for Newton's Javert. He is superb.
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