This lavish, prestige production, made at Fox in 1935 by Richard Boleslawski, is an engaging, supremely mounted adaptation of the Victor Hugo famous novel, and with the exception of the ending, it is rather faithful to the source material.
At the prime of his career, Fredric March gives a compelling performance as Hugo’s hero, the sensitive, persecuted Jean Valjean, who steal a loaf of bread in order to survive. Captured, he is given 10 years of hard labor. But he manages to escape prison.
Charles Laughton, who two years earlier won the Best Actor Oscar for “The Private Life of King Henry VIII,” also excels as Javert, the cold, impassioned police chief, who believes that justice must be upheld at all costs.
Director Boleslawski (who had directed Garbo in “The Painted Veil” and the historical epic “Rasputin and the Empress) shows understanding of the text, giving his version meticulous attention to detail.
Oscar Nominations: 4
Picture (produced by Darryl F. Zanuck)
Cinematography Gregg Toland
Assistant Director: Eric Stacey
Film Editing: Barbara McLean
Oscar Awards: None
Les Miserables competed for the Best Picture Oscar with eleven other films: Alice Adams, Broadway Melody of 1936, Captain Blood, David Copperfield, The Informer, Lives of a Bengal Lancer, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Mutiny on the Bounty, Naughty Marietta, Ruggles of Red Gap, and Top Hat.
Mutiny of the Bounty won Best Picture, and Editing was awarded to Ralph Dawson for A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Camera: B/W by Gregg Toland
Running Time: 108 Minutes