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3 diff LES MISERABLES on TCM Thurs., Dec. 13th, incl 282-minute French film


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In preparation for the Christmas Day opening of Les Miserables in the movie theaters, TCM is running three versions of the famous story Thursday evening. Two are the American releases, 1935 with Frederic March and 1952 with Michael Rennie, and the third is the French 1934 version with Harry Baur, which runs 4 hours 42 minutes. Really looking forward to this (and the musical film at Christmas)!

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I'm waiting for the inevitable accusation of the night being a nine hour long commercial designed to promote a new movie.

 

The 1934 version is truly magnificent. I watched it from start-to-finish the last time it aired, keeping me up until about 6am. I then snapped it up at the annual Criterion 50% off sale - a sale that was not promoted by TCM.

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Have you ever heard the Forbidden Broadway version, including "At the End of the Play"?

 

At the end of the play we're another year older

And we're often exhausted from playing the poor

Randy Graff fell in the band

And the turntable's making us dizzy

Trevor Nunn yells a command

And it's throwing us all in a tizzy

And there's going to be hell to pay

At the end of the play

 

At the end of the play see the audience smolder

Sitting flat on their butts for three hours or more

They can't wait to get back home

And to read the libretto in bed

To decipher whatever went on

And what we said

Better read your synopsis

At the end of the play

 

I was at the FB show that had this section way way back and I was in tears from laughing so hard. They pretended to have the turntable moving floor and around and around they would go.

 

But, of course, the highlight was 'Bring It Down," their version of "Bring Him Home."

 

Jean Valjean:

 

God it's high

This song's too high

Pity me

Change the key

Bring it down

Bring it down

It's too high

It's too high

Much too high

 

And the great closing, "Do You Hear the People Sing"...

 

Enjolras:

 

Do you hear the people sing?

Singing the hit songs from Les Mis

It is the best show of a classic

Since they modernised The Wiz

Better learn the songs by heart

And if you don't, they'll call you dumb

They'll be atop the record chart

When the British come

 

No more Gershwin, no more Kern

We don't need old shows anymore

We set ablaze and burn most every Stephen Sondhiem score

Come join with the few who have started a musical war

 

Chorus:

 

Do you hear the people sing?

All of the new songs from Les Mis

Even the great Andrew Lloyd Webber

Wished the songs were really his

You'll be ticketed and pinched

If a La Cage song you should hum

Poor Jerry Herman will be lynched

When the British come

 

Do you hear the people sing?

All of the new songs from Les Mis

Now with our new French Revolution

We'll decapitate The Wiz

Now Les Mis is here to stay

Miss Saigon will leave you numb

Phantom will haunt the Great White Way

When the British come

The British come

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> Even the great Andrew Lloyd Webber

> Wished the songs were really his

 

If they really wanted to tick off Andrew Lloyd Webber, they could have done like Lerner and Loewe and rhymed "rather be" with "bother me". :-)

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*"But I've actually read the entire unabridged book. That makes me a real nerd."* - LP

 

Ha! Comrade! So have I. Well, my edition chopped out a long segment and put it at the end as an appendix, or something. That part was really not necessary. As I recall, it was about 40 (more?) pages long and nothing important happened until the last two.

I also read the Hunchback Of Notre Dame afterwards. I really enjoyed that.

 

As for the new movie, the reviews are coming out. The Hollywood Reporter has one of the longer ones and it is not very pleased.

 

"Greatly compounding the problem is that director Hooper, in his first outing since conquering Hollywood two years ago with his breakthrough feature, *The King's Speech*, stages virtually every scene and song in the same manner, with the camera swooping in on the singer and thereafter covering him or her and any other participants with hovering tight shots; there hasn't been a major musical so fond of the close-up since Joshua Logan attempted to photograph Richard Harris' tonsils in *Camelot*."

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/movie/les-miserables/review/398662

 

Edited by: hlywdkjk on Dec 9, 2012 5:31 PM

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Hooper. . . He should have seen the Stage Production a few more times, preferably from the nosebleed seats. If it really has the close-up parade as suggested, that is a shame. It is a challenging work, being sung-through theater.

 

How could they think a director who's breakthrough foray involved tight shots do proper by Les Miz, with the scope of Hugo's work?

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*"Parts of Les Miserables not necessary. . ."*

 

Well, yeah. Seems that the typical excisions are

"the history of the religious order (Part II, Books 6 and 7); a linguistic examination of the secret languages of thieves (Part IV, Book 7); and the historical background of the 1832 insurrection of Paris (Part IV, Book 10)."

They were included at the end to read if one wanted.

 

I think this was the copy I read. At 1200+ small print paperback pages.

Norman Denny. Folio Press, 1976. A modern British translation subsequently published in paperback by Penguin Books, ISBN 0-14-044430-0. In the very strictest sense this edition is not quite an unabridged translation: Norman Denny explains in his introduction that he moved two of the novel's longer digressive passages into annexes, and that he also made some abridgements in the text, which he claims are minor.

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*"How could they think a director who's breakthrough foray involved tight shots do proper by Les Miz, with the scope of Hugo's work?"*

 

It is just one more example of Hollywood giving a project to an "unseasoned", for lack of a less cruel word, director. Like letting Baz Luhrmann do a historical epic on the history of Australia when he had only done two musicals and an MTV-style version of Romeo and Juliet. (All that money wasted!)

 

At least Luhrmann got filming "dance" right in a musical film - with *Strictly Ballroom* anyway. The directors of recent "dance" musical films have failed everytime - *Chicago* and *Hairspray* were so disappointing.

 

Edited by: hlywdkjk on Dec 9, 2012 6:09 PM

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> {quote:title=hlywdkjk wrote:}{quote}*":* The directors of recent "dance" musical films have failed everytime - *Chicago* and *Hairspray* were so disappointing.

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> Edited by: hlywdkjk on Dec 9, 2012 6:09 PM

Pardon me? I thought both were terrific! Very entertaining. And both films, I have seen multiple times. Both were box office hits...and Chicago won the Best Picture Oscar.

 

I know that Chicago was a Bob Fosse musical on stage, but I think it would have failed as just that on screen. The screen version is more character-driven than Fosse-driven, though it does have a terrific dance number, the Cell Block Tango. I've seen the revival of Chicago on stage twice..once a dozen years ago, and again about a few months ago. Both times, I thought it was terrible and the movie a lot better done. Likewise, I've seen Hairspray on stage and while I did enjoy it immensely, the movie was equally as enjoyable. Yes, there were more dances in the stage version, but that's the stage version.

 

The movie versions of A Chorus Line and Annie were absolutely terrible because the directors knew nothing about musicals. I mean, Sir Richard Attenborough and John Huston...really? (The TV version of Annie was a lot better because it was directed by Rob Marshall, director of Chicago.) The Phantom of the Opera did not do well, though I liked it. Mamma Mia was not that well done a a movie, and same for Sweeney Todd (which I have seen a few times on stage and loved).

 

Yes, the reviews of Les Miserables have not been favorable, but I still have hopes. I love the musical and that music stays in tact, though when you have Russell Crowe in such an important role, I worry. (Don't know why, but I have never really thought him that good an actor, except for L.A. Confidential. And now in a singing role?)

 

P.S. -- if you wanted to see a bad musical, check out Love Never Dies, the sequel to Phantom of the Opera. This is a freak show in more ways than one.

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*"Pardon me? I thought both were terrific! Very entertaining."*

 

That's fine. I am glad you liked them. If you are OK with two dance musicals having the dancing replaced with editted movement, so be it.

 

TCM should get its hands on *Strictly Ballroom*. It is a hoot - especially in this age of "Dancing With The Stars".

 

And worry not, Crowe did musical theater in Australia. He acquits himself nicely, I hear. (Jackman's on 60 Minutes tonight.)

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> Like letting Baz Luhrmann do a historical epic on the history of Australia when he had only done two musicals and an MTV-style version of Romeo and Juliet. (All that money wasted!)

 

Chief,

 

I haven't seen Baz's version of *Romeo and Juliet* and am not a big fan of *Moulin Rouge* but I absolutely love *Australia*.

 

I know it didn't do well at the box office but it's a beautifully epic look at Australia on the cusp of World War II.

 

Hugh Jackman is terrific as Drover and Nicole Kidman is quite captivating as Lady Sarah Ashley.

 

It's one of my favorite films of the 2000s.

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Oh. . . .hopeless.

 

Ok, I'll try. Look at it this way. Who is the genius, you or Hugo? If Hugo put something in the novel, that means there is a good reason for it to be there, that it is integral to the scheme, even if you don't understand it, or are bored by it. If you are bored by some books of Les Miserables, or aren't familiar with the subjects he discusses, skim over them, though you will be missing a lot, even if you don't understand all the references to people and events in French history. For instance, in his recounting of the insurrection of 1832, he describes two famous barricades, their construction and their conquest. An account every bit as riveting as the one featuring Marius in the Rue de la Chanvrerie. I know what you're thinking, "If I skim over them, they might as well not be there." Not so. The motivations and actions of the characters are shaped by the historical and social conditions. Even if you don't read them, you will at least know where Hugo chooses to introduce the different subjects for discussion. For anyone to move parts of Les Miserables around for the sake of storytelling convenience is patronizing at best, and shameless butchery at worst.

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Speaking of Victor Hugo, might one put in a plug for a film based on the life of his youngest daughter? *The Story of Adele H*. is a tragic film about Adele Hugo's obsession; an obsession so intense that by the end, it's just pure obsession without object. Isabelle Adjani gives a towering performance in one of Truffaut's best films.

 

 

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I dreamed a dream in times gone by,

When hopes were high,

And posters didn't always argue,

I dreamed that a thread wouldn't die.

Now everyone fights rather than discussing

Then I was young and naive

Talk of movies and stars was so fun

But today's board does make me grieve.

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It will probably get its own thread, first with a teaser of upcoming "revolutionary" content and the promise of future daily updates.

 

BTW - I mentioned that I bought the DVD of the 1934 French version. I just want to make it clear that I did so without having seen a promotion on TCM to hypnotize me. I had wanted it for months and the only additional motivation was seeing the words "half-price sale" as normally Criterion is a bit out of my budget's reach.

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> {quote:title=filmlover wrote:}{quote}

> I know that Chicago was a Bob Fosse musical on stage, but I think it would have failed as just that on screen. The screen version is more character-driven than Fosse-driven, though it does have a terrific dance number, the Cell Block Tango. I've seen the revival of Chicago on stage twice..once a dozen years ago, and again about a few months ago. Both times, I thought it was terrible and the movie a lot better done. Likewise, I've seen Hairspray on stage and while I did enjoy it immensely, the movie was equally as enjoyable. Yes, there were more dances in the stage version, but that's the stage version.

What I read way back when was that the original Broadway staging for Chicago was quite different from the revival's (which I think may have been an Encores production and that necessitated the streamlined costuming, sets, and such). Supposedly in the original there were all sorts of visual & verbal nods to real old-time vaudeville performers that sort of filled-in parts of the characters. It was thought mid-1990s audiences who were largely unfamiliar with those vaudeville stars wouldn't "get" those elements so they were eliminated. I wonder if that may have contributed to what you felt were more shallow characterizations in the revival vs. the movie which was said to take more of its cues from the original version? If all that's true, that is.

 

I like the original, non-musical movie version of Hairspray better but agree that the movie musicalization was pretty entertaining too (but there were some songs whose arrangements/performances I liked better on the OBC recording). Though it would be nice if more of today's directors would stage musical numbers less like music videos with so many quick cuts, fewer wide shots & full views. The A Chorus Line movie...yikes. I hope Les Miz is better than critics are saying.

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While there is very little of dancing in Les Miz, there is a tremendous amount of choreography just the same.. that is what a production number is anyway.

 

After a few viewings, you no longer let it wash over you, but the creative juices start flowing, and you visualize the story in the motion picture of your mind.

 

I have seen Les Miz a number of times, and [One Day More|http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IQkrKhyGuBA] has an ensemble movement that I had pictured in my mind's eye for cinematic production, using multiple camera angles and sound enveloping the audience in the maelstrom and strife in the streets of Paris and the barricades at that fate-filled sunset, as a way to place homage to the original "double carousel" stagecraft. It would end in the camera pan up to the incredible beauty of the Paris sunset in golds to deep red in twilight... Fading to ...

 

Clouds obscuring the moonlight, then the soft drops of rain opening the next scene, in mimic of tears.

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Filmlover, thanks for including the lyrics of the FORBIDDEN BROADWAY parodies. I remember laughing hysterically when I saw this in a superb production in Texas.

 

 

Like some of you, I plan to record the 1934 Raymond Bernard version of LES MISERABLES.

 

 

And I agree with Swithin about the excellence of Truffaut's THE STORY OF ADELE H.

 

 

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> {quote:title=hlywdkjk wrote:}{quote}*"Pardon me? I thought both were terrific! Very entertaining."*

>

> That's fine. I am glad you liked them. If you are OK with two dance musicals having the dancing replaced with editted movement, so be it.

>

Sounds like you're bothered with the ways dance numbers are photoghraphed and edited. I hate that too. I enjoyed both *Chicago* and *Hairspray*, but like you would prefer if they just showed the dance rather than editing them like crazy. Fred Astaire is rolling over in his grave. But as films I really enjoy them.

 

> TCM should get its hands on *Strictly Ballroom*. It is a hoot - especially in this age of "Dancing With The Stars".

I love that movie! So hilarious. "Pam Shore's broken both her legs and I wanna dance with you."

 

> And worry not, Crowe did musical theater in Australia. He acquits himself nicely, I hear. (Jackman's on 60 Minutes tonight.)I too was relieved to hear about this-- so sick of Hollywood making musicals with "stars" who can't sing. But from what I've heard of the clips and trailers, he sings well enough to ease my mind.

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