France 1796: in the new Republic, poverty is rife and crimes harshly punished. Jean Valjean (Richard Jordan) sentenced to five years at the gallery for stealing a loaf of bread. There the Inspector of Guards, Javert (Anthony Perkins) takes an intense loathing to him - and every rebellion on Jean's part is met with strict punishment and a longer sentence. Jean eventually escapes. Five years later he is living a respectable life as a Mayor when fate intervenes and brings him face to face with his old enemy Javert.