Synopsis

Jean Valjean, convicted of a minor crime, spends the rest of his life being pursued by a cruel and unrelenting policeman, Javert.

Director

Jean-Paul Le Chanois

Cast

Jean Gabin
as Jean Valjean / Champmathieu
Bernard Blier
as Javert (père et fils)
Giani Esposito
as Marius de Pontmercy
Bourvil
as Thénardier
Elfriede Florin
as La Thénardier

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by ailurophile 9 /10

Movie gains applause for fidelity to book

Being a diehard Les Miserables fan, I first learned the musical and then read the book. The musical, though wonderful, was nothing in comparison to the book; there was just so much material in the book that it couldn't all be put in the musical. In this movie adaptation, however, much effort is made in accuracy to not only the plot of Victor Hugo's novel, but the atmosphere and characters. Scenes are filmed as near to where they actually took place in the book as possible, and characters reflect the Hugo's original intentions. The plot is concise enough to be understandable, but full enough to give the viewer a true sense of Hugo's message. Overall, it is a wonderful adaptation and an excellent film.

Reviewed by theowinthrop 8 /10

The best of the fuller versions of Les Miserables.

In the middle 1950s two film versions of Hugo's best remembered novels appeared and disappeared very quickly in movie houses. This French version of "Les Miserables" was one. The other was a French/Italian version of "Notre-Dame De Paris/The Hunchback of Notre-Dame". That one starred Anthony Quinn as Quasimodo and Gina Lollabrigida as Esmarelda. Both films were actually quite good, and were the best straight versions of the novels to try to get most of the stories onto the screen. However, both were too long for most audiences, especially this version of Les Miserables. This ran over three hours. As pointed out in the other review that I wrote about the 1935 version of Les Miserables, that film version is the best normal screen length film version. But the performance of Jean Gabin as Jean Valjean in this film is superior to the performance of Fredric March in the same role. I would also note that the performance of Bourvil as Thenardier is the best I've seen (even better than Ian Holm's in the 1978 version). Thenardier is an even slimier villain than Javert is, but Javert's single minded pursuit of Valjean in the novel makes the antics of Thenardier look secondary, and they are usually dismissed in the filmed versions (though not in the musical version). Check out the scene where Thenardier and his goons kidnap Valjean for ransom, and the latter demonstrates how tough he is effectively thwarting the plan. It does not appear in the 1935 version.

Reviewed by jean-claude primeau N/A

The best movie adaptation so far of this great story

I have seen a number of film and TV adaptations of Les Miserables: this is by far the best. It has the required grandeur and outstanding performances by Jean Gabin (unbeatable as Jean Valjean), Bourvil (a very sly Thenardier) and Bernard Blier (a great Javert). Silvia Montfort is a striking Eponine. Quite long but doesn't feel it, it has enough scope to do justice to the story.

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