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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)

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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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




TV-G | See all certifications »




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
See  »

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

Another Masterful Performance From George Arliss
2 September 2000 | by (Forest Ranch, CA) – See all my reviews

France, 1762. Only one man dares to defy King Louis XV. Only one voice is raised against the bloodthirsty, corrupt Court. Only one pen can give utterance to the cry of the downtrodden masses. Crafty. Sly. Wily as any fox. Philosopher. Pamphleteer. Playwright. Poet. Essayist. Storyteller. Historian. Mocker. Wit. The first prophet of the Revolution. VOLTAIRE.

George Arliss, the greatest Hollywood actor of the early 1930's, and the most forgotten, gives another fascinating living history lesson in the title role. Full of fidgets, blinks & mutters, he makes his subject come alive as no book ever could. A consummate performer, Arliss achieved more with the lift of a finger or the curve of the lip, than other actors could with their entire body. He is a joy to watch.

A fine cast gives good support. Doris Kenyon is beautiful as the conniving Madame de Pompadour; Alan Mowbray is very good as a nasty courtier; Reginald Owen has a jolly time as vain, foolish Louis, a role he would reprise in 1934's MADAME DUBARRY. Doris Lloyd has a small part as an actress friend of Voltaire.

Warner Brothers obviously spent lavishly on this picture and it shows in the production. The sets & costumes are impeccable. Notice in particular the fun Arliss has with his wigs.

Now a brief historical reality check. The man who would later assume the name Voltaire was born François-Marie Arouet in 1694. By the time of the movie, he had already been imprisoned in the Bastille twice, and spent years in exile in England, Lorraine and Prussia. In 1762, Voltaire was not living in Paris, but in the French village of Ferney, located on the Swiss border, over which he could flee if need be. He lived there the last 20 years of his life. He died in 1778, at the age of 83.

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