1. Sam Juliano

    The great French actor Harry Bauer was killed by the Nazis, ending an unforgettable career, capped by his extraordinary performance as Jean Valjean. It’s the greatest turns on record of one of literature’s most beloved characters, and the 1934 film by Raymond Bernard is hands down the best ever made from the novel that I consider my all-time favorite.

    How wonderful to include Hapgood’s succinct psychological portrait of a caged Valjean, and the noir-like undertones of his predicament that includes the hand of fate. This is the first time I have read her contribution, and was so moved I read it a second time. And I’ve seen Maltin’s fine capsule piece as well.

    Raymond’s epic and magnum opus is at nearly five hours the most comprehensive adaptation ever made of Hugo’s masterpiece, and one that is always recommended first by cineastes for it’s acting and production design, both components of which are first-rate. Bauer is the most affecting Valjean ever, and Charles Venal is an ominous force of nature as Javert. A year later Hollywood rolled out their own solid version, with Charles Laughton as an unforgettable Javert, and Frederic March as the “second-best” Valjean. The only problem with the film are the massive cuts to the text, sad to say.

    Such a timely post here with the present run of the film musical of LES MISERABLES (based on the London and Broadway smash)that has yielded yet another terrific adaptation of Hugo, albeit in another form.

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