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Voltaire (1933)

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Writer and philosopher Voltaire, loyal to his king, Louis XV of France, nonetheless writes scathingly of the king's disdain for the rights and needs of his people. Louis admires Voltaire ... See full summary »



(screen play), (screen play), 2 more credits »
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Title: Voltaire (1933)

Voltaire (1933) on IMDb 6.7/10

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Complete credited cast:
Mme. Pompadour
Theodore Newton ...
Gordon Westcott ...
The Captain
David Torrence ...
Dr. Tronchin
Murray Kinnell ...
Emile - Voltaire's Servant
Doris Lloyd ...
Mme. Clairon - Actress


Writer and philosopher Voltaire, loyal to his king, Louis XV of France, nonetheless writes scathingly of the king's disdain for the rights and needs of his people. Louis admires Voltaire but is increasingly influenced against him by his minister, the Count de Sarnac. Louis's mistress, the courtesan Madame de Pompadour, is Voltaire's protector and advocate, but even she has difficulty preserving his welfare when Voltaire publicly excoriates the king for the wrongful execution of one of his subjects, Calas. Voltaire gives refuge to Calas's daughter and endeavors to show the king the error of his ways. But the Count de Sarnac, with an agenda of intrigue and disloyalty, determines to do away with the troublesome Voltaire. Written by Jim Beaver <>

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Release Date:

5 August 1933 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Affairs of Voltaire  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Although the onscreen source of the movie is a novel, it was never published. But modern sources say George Gibbs and E. Lawrence Dudley wrote a play for George Arliss, and it was the source adapted for the movie. The play also was never published or even produced. See more »


Referenced in Upperworld (1934) See more »


La Marseillaise
(1792) (uncredited)
Written by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle
Played as part of the score at the end
See more »

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User Reviews

Not too bad, in this best of all possible worlds
12 July 2009 | by (Derby, UK) – See all my reviews

Reading Candide by Voltaire when I was a teenager was life-changing for me; in one go it opened up many new vistas to me back then and remains a piece of all too human knockabout inconsequentiality I delve into regularly decades later. I went through the best of the rest of his work: Zadig, Micromegas, Princess of Babylon etc but never knew much of the finer details of the man himself. After watching this I still don't, but I feel at least I'd know something if Disraeli had played an episode in his life. George Arliss was a great actor who ended up playing many great men on stage and screen, this time Francoise Arouet for Warners with big production values and an earnest populist screenplay getting over the essence of Voltaire to the cinema masses. Were they trying to "teach the People to think" too?

In 1762 at 68 years old Voltaire takes up the case of a man who is apparently executed for nothing - how very true of religion! He chivvies away at the King via Mme de Pompadour to posthumously pardon him and his extant young and beautiful daughter but the wicked Comte de Alan Mowbray manages to bring about Voltaire's arrest for alleged treason instead. It was based on a real series of events, but needless to say partly fictionalised by olde Hollywood. The acting is usually intense but believable, although Douglas Dumbrille as the Eastern King in the play had me involuntarily looking out for Abbott & Costello! As the film lasts only 72 minutes it's all taken at a cracking pace, but I thought it was detailed enough for me to come away with a little more knowledge than I had before. Voltaire was a bit of a wit - a wag in a wig - unfortunately not much wit is on display in here.

If he was living today his interpretation of egalitarianism probably would be equated by many people almost to fascism, so far has our wonderful world been "improved" over the years. Nevertheless, he was a brave man for his time - if he had not lived it would have been necessary to have invented him, as this film did admirably well.

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