Les Miserables will satisfy the most exacting Victor Hugo followers, and at the same time please those looking only for entertainment, regardless of literary backgrounds. The task of boiling down the lengthy Hugo novel is accomplished by W.P. Lipscomb with no loss of flavor. The essence of the original is faithfully retained.
Fredric March makes the screen Jean Valjean a living version of the panegyrical character. He is the same persecuted, pursued, pitiable, but always admirale man that all readers of the book must visualize. Side by side with March, throughout the picture, is Charles Laughton, as Javert, the cop. His performance is much more on the quiet side, but equally powerful and always believable.
Valjean’s service in the galley, to which he is sentenced for stealing a loaf of bread; Javert’s pursuit of Valjean and his foster-daughter; the revolt of the French students; the race of Valjean, with the injured Marius on his shoulders, through the stinking sewers of Paris, all breath-taking action passages, are brilliantly managed.
1935: Nominations: Best Picture, Cinematography, Editing, Assistant Director (Eric Stacey)