Fictionalized account of the life of famed French author Emile Zola. As portrayed in the film, he was a penniless writer sharing an apartment in Paris with painter Paul Cezanne when he finally wrote a best-seller, Nana. He has always had difficulty holding onto a job as he is quite outspoken, being warned on several occasions by the public prosecutor that he risks charges if he does not temper his writings. The bulk of the film deals with his involvement in the case of Captain Alfred Dreyfus who was falsely convicted of giving secret military information to the Germans and sentenced to life imprisonment on Devils Island. Antisemitism played an important role in the real-life case but is hardly mentioned in the film. Even after the military found definitive evidence that Dreyfus was innocent, the army decided to cover it up rather than face the scandal of having arbitrarily convicted the wrong man. Zola's famous letter, J'Accuse (I Accuse), led to his own trial for libel where he was ... Written by
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Did You Know?
The film was shot in reverse order; Paul Muni
grew his own beard for the role, and it was trimmed and darkened as he proceeded to scenes where Zola is younger. His makeup took 3-1/2 hours to apply each morning. See more
The lettering on the door to Clemenceau's office at the newspaper misspells his first name "George" instead of the correct French spelling, "Georges". See more
Minister of War
Books? Books? I don't read books!
Featured in The Movies March On
Written by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle
Variations often in the score See more