19. Les Miserables: Part 2: The Thenardiers (A-)
The middle piece of the trilogy covers all of Parts 2 and 3 of the novel, dipping slightly in 4 as well, perhaps. If you were looking to avoid actually reading the book, this'd be a pretty decent exam cheat sheet.
The film is built around basically two setpieces: Valjean's retrieval of the young Cosette from the Thenardiers, and the Thenardiers' attempted robbery of Valjean eight years later. The latter has been omitted from all the other versions of this that I've seen (the musical does a revised, much quicker version of the same basic idea). And, as with last time, the film has more time for characters like M. Gillenormand (who was briefly reintegrated into the film version of the stage show, which leaves him out). Though my favourite moment in the novel doesn't make it in, even with four and a half hours of space. Sigh.
Harry Baur gets to show more consistent emotional range in this one, mainly in his interactions with Cosette, and the big fight with Thenardiers' gang contains a surprisingly badass moment for a 30s film. Charles Vanel gets a bit more to do as Javert. The actors playing the Thenardiers are quite good, and certainly played much straighter than the musical. There's a good Marius, and the actress playing Cosette (in addition to actually being a teenager, unusually for older film casting, especially) is very engaging.
Home Video: 12 (+1)