There is an oft quoted statement that there are really only 7 basic plots for stories. Others have broken it down further and say there may be as many as twenty; quest, adventure, pursuit, rescue, escape, revenge, riddle, rivalry, underdog, temptation, metamorphosis, transformation, maturation, love, forbidden love, sacrifice, discovery, wretched excess, ascension, and decision. Whichever number you favour, there is no doubt that plots and stories get recycled---and if a story can get recycled then certainly a superior story can be told and retold.
Seldom has there been a story more frequently retold than Victor Hugo's 1862 Les Misérables ... I counted no less than 46 film and television adaptations going as far back as 1909. And being as popular as it is it should come as no surprise that there is currently a new adaptation in production for 2010, although at this time I couldn't find any further information.
We have four very good versions of Les Mis, so if you are interested in seeing what different actors and directors can bring to a role, compare the following.
1935 and 1952---this is one dvd that has two versions included. Side A is with the incomparable Charles Laughton as Javert and Frederick March as Jean Valjean. Side B is the Michael Rennie adaptation.
1978---Anthony Perkins of Pyscho fame as the relentless Javert and Richard Jordan as Valjean.
1998---Geoffrey Rush as Javert, Liam Neeson as Valjean and Claire Danes as daughter Cosette.
I recommend any of the above as stand alones but would also encourage you to try more than one. I hope to have more movies with mulitple choices for you in the future.
2000---is a mini series of Les Mis from our French DVD collection which I have not seen. It features Gerard Depardieu and rather surprisingly John Malkovich as Javert. Surprising only in that until this post I did not now that Malkovich was fluent in French, having lived and worked there for nearly 10 years.
The musical version of Les Misérables opened at the Broadway Theater on March 12, 1987 and ran for 6680 performances, making it the third longest running show on Broadway.