« Les Misérables »
The Victor Hugo story of "Les Miserables" has been done before in motion picture, some years ago by the Pathe concern, as a serial, with releases somewhat apart and running but 1,000 feet each. The French-made film now being shown at the Carnegie Lyceum by the Gordon Bros. of Boston is in four acts and nine reels, taking two and one-half hours to run off. It is the full story, agreeably condensed, with plenty of dramatic action, plenty of misery and plenty of sentiment. At a private showing last Friday evening a woman delivered a lecture on Victor Hugo and his work for nine minutes before the film started to unreel, but she said nothing and only worked the audience into a state of impatience that boded ill for a favorable opinion unless the picture was "there". It was. Interest centred from the commencement and to those present with recollections of the Hugo fiction tale, the pretty landscape settings and the tragic incidents of Jean Valjean's life were especially vivid. To others it revived the book, and to the non-reader it appealed as a good feature film that started right and kept that way. About the single dull period of the film is the love portion between Cosette and Marius. These roles were taken by Le Petite Frommet (sic) et M. de Gravonne. Mlle Frommet wasn't nearly as nice to love as a grown up as the child who took the same part 15 years before. De Gravonne was very serious, in mind and action, and with a timid little mustache, he scarce looked a fevered lover. But Henri Krauss as Jean Valjean held up all scenes. He is superb in this picture, fits the role as though written around him, plays with much dignity and it is worth sitting the film through to merely see this actor before the camera. Mlle Mistinguett, one of the best known music hall artists in Paris, had the character of Thenardier's daughter, Eponine, but for what she did with it, the part required no one of her prominence to play. M. Eitevant (sic) is Javert, the police inspector and shadow of Jean. He made up to resemble a Dickens character, but put plenty of force into his acting and left the usual feeling against the "villun". Mlle Ventura as Fantine gave a good performance, and in her scenes with Valjean, double photography and dissolving were nicely shown. M. Bernard as Priest Myriel, for his brief time upon the screen, did exceptionally well. There are 10 principal actors altogether besides mob scenes, one during the rebellion of 1832, when the rebels were given plenty of leeway, but an army in uniform was held in check, with little chance to make a display, nor was the street where the conflict between the mob and army occurred of sufficient width for spectacular maneuvering. This was a moment when the picture could have broadened into tensity and grandeur, but the scene ended on the narrow road. Two deaths are shown, that of Fantine in Part Two and Valjean at the finale. The reels are run without waits, to an orchestral organ accompaniment, with an intermission evenly separating the four acts. The film at Carnegie may be shifted to a Broadway house, if patronage proves worth while. The picture had an engagement in Boston before entering New York and was well received there. As a feature film it is decidedly attractive, well and carefully produced, with good photography. Whether it will draw as a picture by itself remains to be seen. It should, for the Hugo novel certainly must have a drawing power on its title alone, and here is the living exposition of it for farther interest. One cannot leave after seeing the film without carrying a deeply rooted impression of Mr. Krauss as Valjean. He alone should be sufficient to spread about the fame of the picture. Sime.