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« First miserable thought: Red and Black | Main | Third miserable thought: Wolverine, song and dance X-man »


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Kevin Wolf

Another reminder of all the novels on my list which remain unread. The movie? I have no interest in seeing it, not knowing (or really wanting to know) the musical. I did recently watch a fine version starring Michael Rennie (best known as Klaatu) and Robert Newton (best known as Long John Silver) -- another reminder of all the novels etc etc etc.

Ken Houghton

"To be fair, Jackman can sing but he doesn’t sing that well through most of the movie. I suspect Hooper asked him to tone himself down in his scenes with the non-singers or, probably more accurately, hold himself back for his big solos."

For Lance's next understatement, he will declare that Kobe Bryant can play basketball.

This will serve as a reminder that Jackman was The Boy from Oz [a.k.a. Peter Allen] long before he was Wolverine. Which almost requires me to note that Crowe was the lead vocalist for 30-Odd Foot of Grunts before he was John Nash--thought I'll stipulate that 30OFoG vocals are more in the actor-doubling-as-a-singer range than Axl Rose/David Coverdale or the writer/singer of "Paris at 21."

Also Hathaway sang at the end of Ella Enchanted ("Don't Go Breakin' My Heart"). Thin but serviceable voice.

Shorter Ken: If you know the careers of the actors involved, you don't go to the film expecting a musical; you expect a film with music. (More Chicago than Annie.)

minstrel hussain boy

a hard and fast rule that i have when i am involved with a musical comedy (i've been musical director of four professional shows) is

1. always, always, always, take an actor who cannot sing over a singer who cannot act.

there have been many people (notably rex harrison, yul brenner, richard burton) who have acted their way through songs with great skill, even to the point of making their lack of singing chops a virtue and something else to love about the character they portrayed.

also, on film, there is the easy process of dubbing in a singer (marnie nixon made an entire career out of making folks believe that audrey hepburn and natalie wood could sing).

when i first heard about russell crowe attempting javert my thought was not that he would not be up to the task musically, but that he wouldn't be able to act his way out of any hole his lack of chops dug him down into.


I haven't seen the musical staged, but fell in love with the soundtrack long ago. I was looking forward to the film, but have to admit the poor singing took me out of the story. Listen to Phillip Quast sing "Stars" as Javert. Sung right it adds much more complexity and nuance to the character of Javert and makes his suicide poignant rather than pedestrian.


You can have this madeleine when you take it from my cold, dead hands, Lance. (Just kidding. I'm currently on page 1000 of Les Misérables.) I haven't see the film of the musical yet. Nor have I seen the Jordan and Neeson film versions yet, although I plan to. (Danes' bad British accent annoyed me in the trailer, and I'm alternately amused and annoyed by what I call the Masterpiece Theater convention of making everyone in a period movie use British accents even when the story is not set in friggin' Britain. Uniformity of accents make some sense, but I don't think that's the only reason they do it.) I also want to see the Depardieu version, though, and apparently a new DVD edition is coming out soon. Meanwhile, the Lelouch-Belmondo version, while a loose adaptation, is an extraordinary film. Alas, a good region 1 DVD version does not seem to exist yet, but it's well worth seeing.

I've seen the stage version of the musical three times now – the first time, by luck, with Colm Wilkinson and the original Broadway cast in DC before they hit Broadway, and now the revival tour twice (once to take a family member). The 10th Anniversary concert is the best CD version, although other recordings have their virtue. (Teresa's link of the killer performance from Quast is from this one.)

There's something great about Hugo, for all his digressions and excess, that survives even flawed adaptations. I've seen mediocre film versions of Notre Dame that are nevertheless moving. The leitmotifs in the musical Les Misérables, particularly the parallels and contrasts between the moments of conscience for Valjean and Javert, are really powerful. Javert is simply a fascinating character, and I'll have to write a piece about him and his worldview at some point. Anyway, cheers.


I have to second the comment by Ken H. above regarding Jackman's musical talent. If you want to see what he's capable of, just watch his Oscar opening when he hosted a couple of years ago. And that was LIVE. He's great.

Once again, I loved the book, have yet to see any adaptation of it either theatrically or on film, and not sure I ever will. Some books need to be left alone. (See also, Karenina, Anna!)

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