Les Misérables (1917 film)

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Les Misérables
Les Miserables 1917.jpg
Directed by Frank Lloyd
Produced by William Fox
Screenplay by Frank Lloyd and Marc Robbins
Based on Les Misérables 
by Victor Hugo
Starring William Farnum, Hardee Kirkland, and George Moss
Fox Studio
Distributed by Standard Pictures
Release dates
  • December 3, 1917 (1917-12-03)
Running time
90 minutes
Country United States
Language Silent film with English subtitles

Les Misérables is one of many filmed versions of the Victor Hugo novel of the same name. It was a silent film directed by Frank Lloyd, co-written by Lloyd and Marc Robbins, and produced by William Fox, released in the United States on December 3, 1917.[1] It starred William Farnum, Hardee Kirkland, and George Moss.[1]

Background and production[edit]

Even by the time this film was created in 1917, there had already been "at least a dozen" film adaptations of this Victor Hugo novel.[2] Only a portion of the novel was included in the screenplay, but it included some of "the most famous" events, such as the story of the Bishop who gave Valjean his silver candlesticks in order to start a new life, and the street rebellion that was part of the French revolution.[2]

William Farnum was "Fox's biggest male box-office attraction" when the movie was made, and had previously appeared in Lloyd's film adaptation of the Charles Dickens novel, A Tale of Two Cities.[2]


Jean Valjean is a French peasant who spends almost twenty years in prison for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his family, and then—when his "yellow passport" (given to him because of his status as a convicted criminal) makes it almost impossible to build a new life—he steals silverware from a kind Catholic Bishop who had given him a meal and a place to sleep. When the police find him with the silver they return him to the Bishop to confirm the theft, but the Bishop surprises Valjean by telling the police the silver had been a gift, and then adding his silver candlesticks, saying Valjean must have mistakenly left them behind because they were part of the gift. Valjean uses the money to start a new life under a new name, eventually becoming mayor of a small town, but police inspector Javert suspects Valjean, and works relentlessly to reveal his true identity and his past crimes.



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