Directed by: Glenn Jordan
Starring: Richard Jordan, Anthony Perkins, Cyril Cusack, Claude Dauphin, John Gielgud
There’s absolutely nothing all that wrong with this 1978 Brit TV film version of Les Miserables in a kind of “yeah, that’s the story” manner. Oh, it benefits from a clutch of high tone and Brit actors popping up in minor roles, but that has the pitfall of being distracted in that, “Is that Flora Robson?” manner. That sort of thing can be fun with the right material, but this is serious drama — and it expends a good deal of energy making sure you know it, along with how very earnest this is. I don’t know whether it’s this earnestness or a lack of verve on the part of TV movie specialist Glenn Jordan, but something makes the film a little bloodless. For instance, there’s a street fair scene that offered all kinds of opportunities for some visual excitement, but it just lies there. Toss in some dicey wigs and old-age makeup and it just never gets out of its TV special gear. That said, it’s certainly an adequate representation of the essentials of the tale. Richard Jordan makes a respectable Jean Valjean, while Anthony Perkins makes for an interesting and somewhat unusual Javert. He, in fact, makes the whole thing worth watching.
The Hendersonville Film Society will show Les Miserables Sunday, March 3 at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing Retirement Community (behind Epic Cinemas), 333 Thompson St., Hendersonville.
In Brief: Lew Grade’s 1978 TV version of Les Miserables with Richard Jordan as Jean Valjean and Anthony Perkins as Javert is a reasonably solid version of the book that hits the main plot elements and adds more backstory. Apart from Tony Perkins as a twitchy Javert, it’s pretty much a kind of “Classics Illustrated” take on the material. But it’s a good half hour shorter than the musical.