Les Misérables (1935)

105 or 108-109 mins | Drama | 21 April 1935

Writer:

W. P. Lipscomb

Cinematographer:

Gregg Toland

Editor:

Barbara McLean

Production Designer:

Richard Day

Production Company:

20th Century Pictures, Inc.
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HISTORY

In the opening credits, this film is introduced as "Victor Hugo's Les Misérables ." After the opening credits, the film includes the following quote from Victor Hugo: "So long as there exists in this world that we call civilized, a system whereby men and women, even after they have paid the penalty of the law and expiated their offenses in full, are hounded and persecuted wherever they go--this story will not have been told in vain." In detailed conference notes regarding the screenplay, in the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection at the UCLA Theater Arts Library, studio head Darryl Zanuck is quoted concerning his views of the story: "The romance between Jean Valjean and Cosette is the most important element of the story and should be developed. His feeling for her when he first takes her is one of attachment. This later develops into devotion and culminates in her being his life blood. By treating it this way, the scene where he finally gives her up will absolutely slaughter audiences. This treatment will strike a human note in the picture and make it something much more important than just a finely conceived melodrama."
       Director Richard Boleslawski and screenwriter W. P. Lipscomb also wrote and directed an earlier 20th Century Pictures historical epic, Clive of India . Sir Cedric Hardwicke was knighted the previous year by King George V for his work on the English stage. According to a review, 200 inmates of the Midnight Mission in Los Angeles were given roles as prisoners in the film for ten dollars a day for a week; Fredric March used nine different makeups; the film ... More Less

In the opening credits, this film is introduced as "Victor Hugo's Les Misérables ." After the opening credits, the film includes the following quote from Victor Hugo: "So long as there exists in this world that we call civilized, a system whereby men and women, even after they have paid the penalty of the law and expiated their offenses in full, are hounded and persecuted wherever they go--this story will not have been told in vain." In detailed conference notes regarding the screenplay, in the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection at the UCLA Theater Arts Library, studio head Darryl Zanuck is quoted concerning his views of the story: "The romance between Jean Valjean and Cosette is the most important element of the story and should be developed. His feeling for her when he first takes her is one of attachment. This later develops into devotion and culminates in her being his life blood. By treating it this way, the scene where he finally gives her up will absolutely slaughter audiences. This treatment will strike a human note in the picture and make it something much more important than just a finely conceived melodrama."
       Director Richard Boleslawski and screenwriter W. P. Lipscomb also wrote and directed an earlier 20th Century Pictures historical epic, Clive of India . Sir Cedric Hardwicke was knighted the previous year by King George V for his work on the English stage. According to a review, 200 inmates of the Midnight Mission in Los Angeles were given roles as prisoners in the film for ten dollars a day for a week; Fredric March used nine different makeups; the film cost almost $1,000,000 to make; March and Charles Laughton were each paid $100,000, and Rochelle Hudson was borrowed from Fox. According to news items, the film was shot in thirty-four days, and Zanuck attended the New York premiere. The film was nominated for four Academy Awards: Best Picture, Cinematography (Gregg Toland), Film Editing (Barbara McLean) and Assistant Director (Eric Stacey). It was fifth on the list of 10 Best Pictures of 1935 in the FD Nation Wide Poll of Critics of America, rated an "Honorable Mention" by the National Board of Review and was fifth on the list of NYT reviewer Andre Sennwald's ten best films of the first six months of 1935. Other film versions of the novel include a four-part series produced by Vitagraph in 1909; a 1917 Fox Film Corp. production directed by Frank Lloyd and starring William Farnum (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1911-20 ; F1.2961); a 1934 French production starring Harry Baur and Charles Vanel and directed by Raymond Bernard; a 1947 Italian film entitled I Miserablili , starring Gino Cervi and Valentina Cortese and directed by Riccardo Freda; a 1950 Japanese production starring Sessue Hayakawa and directed by Daisuke Ito and Masahiro Makino; a 1952 Twentieth Century-Fox production starring Michael Rennie and Robert Newton and directed by Lewis Milestone; a 1958 French/Italian co-production starring Jean Gabin and Bernard Blier and directed by Jean Paul Le Chanois; a 1978 Norman Rosemont Production made for television starring Richard Jordan and Anthony Perkins and directed by Glenn Jordan; and a 1982 French production starring Lino Ventura and directed by Robert Hossein. A musical based on the novel, with French text by Alain Boubil and Jean-Marc Natel, additional material by James Fenton, and music by Claude-Michel Schönberg, opened in Paris in 1980. The American version of the musical, with lyrics by Boubil, Herbert Kretzmer, Jean-Marc Natel, Trevor Nunn and John Caird, had its premiere in Washington, D.C. on 20 Dec 1986. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
13 Apr 1935.
---
Daily Variety
15 Jan 35
p. 1.
Daily Variety
30 Mar 35
p. 3.
Film Daily
3 Apr 35
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Dec 34
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Feb 35
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Feb 35
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Mar 35
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Apr 35
pp. 5-20.
Motion Picture Herald
2 Mar 35
p. 50.
Motion Picture Herald
6 Apr 35
p. 46.
New York Evening Post
22 Apr 1935.
---
New York Times
21 Apr 1935.
---
New York Times
22 Apr 35
p. 14.
New York Times
21 Aug 1935.
---
Variety
24 Apr 35
p. 12.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Marilynne Knowlden
Davidson Clark
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Darryl Zanuck Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
2d asst dir
3d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
2d cam
Asst cam
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dresser
COSTUMES
Cost
Asst cost des
Set ward
Ward woman
Cost supplied by
MUSIC
Mus dir
SOUND
Boom man
VISUAL EFFECTS
MAKEUP
Hair
Makeup
Set makeup
Set makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Scr clerk
Grip
Best boy
Research dir
Construction
Still photog
STAND INS
Stand-in for Frederic March
Stand-in for Charles Laughton
Stand-in for Rochelle Hudson
Stand-in for John Beal
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Les Misérables by Victor Hugo (Paris, 1862).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Victor Hugo's Les Misérables
Release Date:
21 April 1935
Premiere Information:
New York premiere: 20 April 1935
Production Date:
16 January--26 February 1935
Copyright Claimant:
20th Century Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
23 April 1935
Copyright Number:
LP5492
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Noiseless Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
105 or 108-109
Length(in feet):
9,849
Length(in reels):
12
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
686
SYNOPSIS

In 1800, in Favorelles, France, Jean Valjean is sentenced to ten years as a galley slave. Jean's crime was that while he was hungry and out of work, he stole a loaf of bread to feed his sister and her babies. Elsewhere in France, Officer Emile Javert, who has sworn to rise above the class of his father, who died as a prisoner on the galleys, is promoted after he emotionally confides that the book of regulations is his bible and that his creed is that the law must be strictly obeyed. Sometime later, when a galley slave is trapped under a heavy board, Javert witnesses Jean lift it with his back. After years of imprisonment, Jean, now with long, unkempt hair and beard, is freed and told he must carry a yellow passport and report to police headquarters on a regular basis. He is refused lodging and food by all but Bishop Bienvenue, who, during a rain storm, offers him shelter. Jean steals the bishop's silver plates, but when officers return with him, the bishop states that the plates were a gift. After he also presents Jean with two silver candlesticks and tells him that life is to give, not to take, Jean leaves with new confidence. Years later, Jean has changed his name to M. Madeleine and, as the owner of a thriving glass factory, is elected mayor. Javert is appointed inspector of police for the district in which Jean lives. Fantine, a former worker at the glass factory, is discharged because of rumors that she had a child out of wedlock. Although she threatens to kill Jean, he prevents ... +


In 1800, in Favorelles, France, Jean Valjean is sentenced to ten years as a galley slave. Jean's crime was that while he was hungry and out of work, he stole a loaf of bread to feed his sister and her babies. Elsewhere in France, Officer Emile Javert, who has sworn to rise above the class of his father, who died as a prisoner on the galleys, is promoted after he emotionally confides that the book of regulations is his bible and that his creed is that the law must be strictly obeyed. Sometime later, when a galley slave is trapped under a heavy board, Javert witnesses Jean lift it with his back. After years of imprisonment, Jean, now with long, unkempt hair and beard, is freed and told he must carry a yellow passport and report to police headquarters on a regular basis. He is refused lodging and food by all but Bishop Bienvenue, who, during a rain storm, offers him shelter. Jean steals the bishop's silver plates, but when officers return with him, the bishop states that the plates were a gift. After he also presents Jean with two silver candlesticks and tells him that life is to give, not to take, Jean leaves with new confidence. Years later, Jean has changed his name to M. Madeleine and, as the owner of a thriving glass factory, is elected mayor. Javert is appointed inspector of police for the district in which Jean lives. Fantine, a former worker at the glass factory, is discharged because of rumors that she had a child out of wedlock. Although she threatens to kill Jean, he prevents Javert from arresting her and goes to bring back her daughter Cosette from the inn in another town where she had been sent to work. On the way, Jean rescues a man caught under a cart by lifting it with his back. Javert witnesses the rescue and, his suspicions aroused, sends messengers to inquire about Jean. When Javert learns that a man known as Champmathieu has been arrested for not reporting for parole as "Jean Valjean," he confesses his actions to Jean and demands that Jean dismiss him and press charges against him. Jean's refusal greatly disturbs Javert. After Jean goes to Champmathieu's trial and proves that he himself is Jean Valjean, he attempts to give Fantine 20,000 francs to provide for Cosette, but Javert confiscates the money. When Fantine, who has been seriously ill, dies, Jean throws Javert down and leaves with Cosette for Paris. After changing his identity to M. Duval, Jean puts Cosette into a convent and gets work there as a gardener. Years later, after Cosette's confirmation, she meets Marius, a law student who is protesting for reforms, and they secretly fall in love. Javert, investigating Marius' group, follows Cosette home, and when Jean spies Javert watching them, he starts to pack. As the students' protests escalate into street violence, Jean plans to go with Cosette to England, but when she reveals her love for Marius, Jean responds with anger, jealousy and dismay, for he loves Cosette himself. To please Jean, for whom she feels undying gratitude, Cosette agrees to go with him. However, when Eponine, who also loves Marius, arrives with a message for Cosette from Marius, who is fighting amid the barricades, Jean sees her selfless love for the boy. Remembering the bishop's words on giving, he goes to help Marius. After the students capture Javert, Jean cannot bring himself to kill him. However, Javert is outraged to be freed by Jean. Followed by Javert, Jean carries the beaten Marius through the sewers of Paris and escapes. He brings Marius to Cosette and begs Javert, who is waiting in the antechamber, for a moment to say goodbye to her. Although the law does not allow this, Javert complies. After Jean repeats the bishop's creed to Cosette and Marius, Jean says a prayer which Javert overhears. When Jean returns outside, he finds that Javert has dropped his handcuffs and is jumping into the river. Jean then looks up to God. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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