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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Overview

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7.4/10   4,082 votes »
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Director:
Writers:
Norman Reilly Raine (screen play) &
Heinz Herald (screen play) ...
(more)
Contact:
View company contact information for The Life of Emile Zola on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
2 October 1937 (USA) See more »
Genre:
Tagline:
Here Is True Greatness ! See more »
Plot:
The biopic of the famous French muckraking writer and his involvement in fighting the injustice of the Dreyfuss Affair. Full summary » | Full synopsis »
Awards:
Won 3 Oscars. Another 4 wins & 7 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
May my name be forgotten, if Dreyfus is not innocent.. He is innocent. See more (40 total) »

Cast

  (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
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


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Additional Details

Also Known As:
Runtime:
116 min
Country:
Language:
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Certification:
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:Approved (PCA #3212)

Did You Know?

Trivia:
Early in the film, Zola burns a few books to warm his drafty apartment. When Cezanne opens the window to let out the smoke, Zola asks him to close the windows to avoid a draft. The real Emile Zola in fact died of carbon monoxide poisoning caused by a stopped chimney.See more »
Goofs:
Miscellaneous: When Erin O'Brien-Moore as Nana comes into the café from the snow, the artificial snow stays on her clothes long after real snow would have melted, then suddenly in a second it disappears with the next cut.See more »
Quotes:
Émile Zola:Why didn't Picquart say anything?
Lucie Dreyfus:Colonel Picquart is a good officer. He kept silent at the request of his superiors.
Émile Zola:You mean they KNEW and they ordered him to suppress the truth? Why,that's monstrous!
See more »
Movie Connections:
Featured in Breakdowns of 1938 (1938)See more »
Soundtrack:
La MarseillaiseSee more »

FAQ

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43 out of 45 people found the following review useful.
May my name be forgotten, if Dreyfus is not innocent.. He is innocent., 26 February 2007
Author: Spent Bullets from Chinatown, California

In 1937, The Life of Emile Zola was nominated for the largest number of awards, ten. The movie won three including Best Picture. However, sadly and in some ways shamefully, this film has been ridiculed for being dated today, it's ways and means a little obsolete, and it's style rather unusual. That is downright unjust! The style which is portrayed in this remarkable seventy year old film is quite conventional. The dialogue is perhaps overwritten, but the powerful story is there, and the story line is enhanced by intelligent dialogue to say the least, as well as, first rate performances by an excellent cast, preferably Paul Muni (giving possibly his best performance) as Emile Zola and supported well by Joseph Schildkraut as Dreyfus. Not to mention, the film is technically excellent. Editing, costuming, lighting - without doubt, and all the production values stand up beautifully even several decades later.

Sure it's a fictionalized version of the life of the great French writer Emile Zola, however, great fiction can make a great film and that is the case with The Life of Emile Zola. One may forget that this film was released in 1937 when anti-Semitism was again sweeping the continent of Europe, and for that very reason, the word "Jew" is never mentioned and we are only given a short visual reference. To avoid lawsuits from their descendants, only Major Dort and Major Esterhazy names were specifically identified. Others are referred to as the Chief of Staff, the Minister of War, etc. Also, Dreyfus was not freed and restored to rank in 1902, the year of Zola's death, but in 1906 after being found guilty again in an 1899 retrial. These historical errors can be forgiven, because it's the films message which stands and given the current climate, the movie's message is all the more important.

The shifting focus of this film doesn't make it a frustrating experience for modern viewers. In fact, the film flows quite nicely: struggling writer, gets in trouble for his book, then the film follows Zola's success as he becomes a powerful force in society. Eventually we get to 1894, where many claim the film to zoom away from its subject, where the film begins to focus on Dreyfus. With that being said, if you sit down to watch The Life of Emile Zola, don't skip the first third of the movie, because it's every bit as moving and powerful as the dramatic court scene, most notably in the unforgettable self-defense scene in which Muni delivers an outstanding performance.

Unfortunately, had Muni not won the previous year for another biopic, The Story of Louis Pasteur, he would have received the Oscar for his portrayal of Zola. Muni was not only nominated for an Oscar for this role but also received awards from many critics groups. Today many dismiss the significant talent of Muni (one of films first devoted actors), however, one cannot deny he had a great deal with elevating the art of film acting.

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