IMDb > The Life of Emile Zola (1937)
The Life of Emile Zola
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The Life of Emile Zola (1937) More at IMDbPro »

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The Life of Emile Zola -- The story of one of the world's greatest writers, a man who proved thatone voice can overcome injustice and change the course of a nation isimmortalized in The Life of Emile Zola.


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7.3/10   4,567 votes »
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Up 3% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Norman Reilly Raine (screen play) &
Heinz Herald (screen play) ...
View company contact information for The Life of Emile Zola on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
2 October 1937 (USA) See more »
Here Is True Greatness ! See more »
The biopic of the famous French muckraking writer and his involvement in fighting the injustice of the Dreyfuss Affair. Full summary » | Full synopsis »
Won 3 Oscars. Another 4 wins & 7 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
A Well-Crafted, Worthwhile Memorial to Zola See more (40 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Paul Muni ... Emile Zola

Gale Sondergaard ... Lucie Dreyfus

Joseph Schildkraut ... Capt. Alfred Dreyfus

Gloria Holden ... Alexandrine Zola

Donald Crisp ... Maitre Labori
Erin O'Brien-Moore ... Nana (as Erin O'Brien Moore)

John Litel ... Charpentier
Henry O'Neill ... Colonel Picquart
Morris Carnovsky ... Anatole France

Louis Calhern ... Major Dort

Ralph Morgan ... Commander of Paris
Robert Barrat ... Major Walsin-Esterhazy
Vladimir Sokoloff ... Paul Cezanne

Grant Mitchell ... Georges Clemenceau

Harry Davenport ... Chief of Staff
Robert Warwick ... Major Henry
Charles Richman ... M. Delagorgue
Gilbert Emery ... Minister of War
Walter Kingsford ... Colonel Sandherr
Paul Everton ... Assistant Chief of Staff
Montagu Love ... M. Cavaignac
Frank Sheridan ... M. Van Cassell
Lumsden Hare ... Mr. Richards
Marcia Mae Jones ... Helen Richards
Florence Roberts ... Madame Zola

Dickie Moore ... Pierre Dreyfus
Rolla Gourvitch ... Jeanne Dreyfus
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Arthur Aylesworth ... Chief Censor (uncredited)
Maurice Black ... Minor Role (uncredited)
Stanley Blystone ... (uncredited)
Egon Brecher ... Brucker (uncredited)
Iphigenie Castiglioni ... Madame Charpentier (uncredited)
Robert Cummings Sr. ... Gen. Gillian (uncredited)
Frank Darien ... Albert (uncredited)

Franklyn Farnum ... (uncredited)
Holmes Herbert ... Commander of Paris (uncredited)
Paul Irving ... La Rue (uncredited)
Alexander Leftwich ... Maj. D'Aboville (uncredited)
Eric Mayne ... Member of the Court (uncredited)

Frank Mayo ... Mathieu Dreyfus (uncredited)
Alex Novinsky ... Member of the Court (uncredited)
Moroni Olsen ... Capt. Guignet (uncredited)

Frank Reicher ... M. Perrenx (uncredited)
Walter O. Stahl ... Sen. Scheurer-Kestner (uncredited)
Wilhelm von Brincken ... Swartzoppen (uncredited)
Pierre Watkin ... Prefect of Police (uncredited)
Dolores Weisenfreund ... Small Role (uncredited)

Harry Worth ... Lieutenant (uncredited)

Directed by
William Dieterle 
Writing credits
Norman Reilly Raine (screen play) &
Heinz Herald (screen play) &
Geza Herczeg (screen play)

Heinz Herald (story) and
Geza Herczeg (story)

Matthew Josephson (source material "Zola and His Time")

Produced by
Henry Blanke .... associate producer (uncredited)
Hal B. Wallis .... executive producer (uncredited)
Jack L. Warner .... executive producer (uncredited)
Original Music by
Max Steiner 
Cinematography by
Tony Gaudio (photography)
Film Editing by
Warren Low (film editor)
Art Direction by
Anton Grot 
Set Decoration by
Albert C. Wilson (uncredited)
Costume Design by
Milo Anderson (costumes by)
Ali Hubert (costumes by)
Makeup Department
Perc Westmore .... makeup artist
Gordon Bau .... makeup artist (uncredited)
Norbert A. Myles .... makeup artist (uncredited)
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Irving Rapper .... assistant director (uncredited)
Russell Saunders .... assistant director (uncredited)
Art Department
Harper Goff .... set designer (uncredited)
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Eugene Joseff .... costume jeweller (uncredited)
Music Department
Leo F. Forbstein .... musical director
Hugo Friedhofer .... orchestrator (uncredited)
Other crew
Irving Rapper .... dialogue director
S. Charles Einfeld .... press representative (uncredited)
Crew verified as complete

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
116 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Argentina:Atp | Argentina:18 (TV rating) | Brazil:Livre | Canada:(Banned) (Quebec) (theatrical release) | Canada:G (video rating) | Finland:K-16 | Netherlands:14 (1938) | USA:TV-G | USA:Not Rated (DVD Rating) | USA:Approved (PCA #3212)

Did You Know?

The second biographical film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture after The Great Ziegfeld (1936).See more »
Factual errors: 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 »
La Rue:We've been watching your writings, young man. You're a troublemaker! These articles of yours, attacking our leading men of letters, the arts! Criticizing the civic authorities!
Émile Zola:Perhaps you know of something better for me to criticize?
See more »
Movie Connections:
Featured in The 80th Annual Academy Awards (2008) (TV)See more »
La MarseillaiseSee more »


This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
16 out of 21 people found the following review useful.
A Well-Crafted, Worthwhile Memorial to Zola, 15 September 2004
Author: Snow Leopard from Ohio

This well-crafted film is a worthwhile memorial to Émile Zola, one of the finest writers of his era, and one who deserves to be better-known today outside of his own country. It seems likely that Zola, a naturalistic writer who always used lifelike, genuine characters who had both strengths and weaknesses, would probably have been satisfied with the way he is portrayed by Paul Muni and by the screenplay. Zola is shown not as a flawless hero or as a larger-than-life icon, but as a real person with a talent for writing, who was willing to struggle both to establish himself and to remain true to his principles.

The movie makes a good selection of events from Zola's life, looking both at his earlier years, when he was struggling to establish himself, and at his later years, when as a respected member of society he had to fight his own reluctance to remain true to his ideals. The supporting cast have smaller parts, but they generally do quite well. Vladimir Sokoloff has a couple of nice scenes as Cézanne, and his interactions with Muni are quite helpful in defining the main character, especially as he changes once attaining personal success. Joseph Schildkraut makes good use of his scenes as Dreyfus.

Zola's lifetime was also an interesting and often tumultuous period in France's own history, and the movie provides at least a small taste of that.

There was, for example, even more to the Dreyfus situation than is shown here, but it and other historical events are shown mainly as they involved Zola himself - otherwise, to do justice to the events in themselves, the movie would have had to be several times as long. There's plenty here as it is to make it worthwhile, both as a good drama and as a believable portrait of Zola.

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See more (40 total) »

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