A few days ago I was looking through a cabinet and stumbled on a set of audio cassettes featuring Orson Welles’ 1937 radio adaptation of Les Misérables. Since I’ve only got one cassette player left (and I’m not sure it works), I went looking for a place to buy it online. It turns out that Archive.org has the whole thing in their Old Time Radio collection: Seven episodes, half an hour each…perfectly suited for listening during a commute.
I quite liked it, except for one section that I’ll get to later. It took a bit to get used to the different acting styles and sensibilities of the era. Fantine definitely would have been played differently today, and Cosette’s got that squeaky woman-trying-to-do-a-child’s-voice sound. The sound quality reminded me of The Wizard of Oz (which I’d just re-watched a few weeks ago), which makes sense given that they’re roughly contemporary. Acted scenes are interspersed with narration and excerpts from letters, or Javert’s notebook.
As usual, it focuses on Valjean, and includes a lot of details that are often left out. It takes a more philosophical approach than, say, the 1998 film, really getting into Valjean’s and Javert’s heads. Continue reading