PlotThe movie follows the lives of two men over a twenty year period in 19th century France. Jean Valjean, played by Frederic March, is sentenced to ten years in the galleys for a minor offence. On his release he is pursued by an obsessed police officer, Javert, played by Charles Laughton.
During a bad storm Valjean is refused food and shelter until a Bishop Bienvenue, played by Cecil Hardwick, offers him a bed for the night. Through his kindness the Bishop teaches Valjean the value of giving and Valjean leaves a changed man.
Years later, Jean has changed his name to M. Madeleine and is a successful businessman. The new inspector of police is Javert who pursues the ex convict relentlessly.
Even now, over 80 years after it was filmed, 'Les Misérables' does not fail to move us with its powerful story. This is almost certainly the best film version of the book. A masterpiecefrom Hollywood's Golden Age.
ProductionLiterary adaptations such as 'Little Women' in 1933 and 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' in 1935, had proved very successful and 'Les Misérables' had already been filmed several times, in 1909, 1917 and 1934. Director Richard Boleslawski had previously collaborated with screenwriter W. P. Lipscomb when he directed an earlier 20th Century Pictures historical epic, 'Clive of India'.
The shooting time for the film was thirty-four days. Shortly after it was completed, the studio responsible, 20th Century Pictures, merged with the Fox Film Corporation to form 20th Century-Fox.
The movie used inmates of the Los Angeles Midnight Mission for the crowd scenes in prison.
Main CastFredric March and Charles Laughton are at the peak of their majestic powers. Cedric Hardwicke plays an important role as the bishop. The other characters are more in the background with their stories only partially developed.
Fredric March ... Jean Valjean/Champmathieu
Charles Laughton ... Inspector Émile Javert
Cedric Hardwicke ... Bishop Myriel
Rochelle Hudson ... Cosette
Marilyn Knowlden ... Young Cosette
Florence Eldridge ... Fantine
John Beal ... Marius
Frances Drake ... Éponine
John Carradine ... Enjolras
Ferdinand Gottschalk and Jane Kerr ... the Thénardiers
Vernon Downing ... Brissac
CreditsDirector ... Richard Boleslawski
Producer ... Darryl F. Zanuck
Production Company ... 20th Century Pictures, Inc.
Story by ... Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
Screenplay ... W. P. Lipscomb
Cinematography ... Gregg Toland
Music ... Alfred Newman
Format ... B & W
Duration ... 108 mins
Release Date ... April 20, 1935
Academy AwardsNo Wins:
Two Unsuccessful Nominations:
Best Picture ... 20th Century Pictures, Inc.
Best Film Editing ... Barbara McLean