The Life of Emile Zola

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Turner Entertainment Co.,
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The second of Paul Muni's biographical films for Warner Bros., the Oscar-winning The Life of Emile Zola is by far the best, even allowing for the dramatic license taken with the material. When first we meet French novelist and essayist Zola, he is starving in a Parisian garret with his painter friend, Paul Cezanne. Each time Zola attempts to write "the truth," he is stymied by governmental censors. Still, he is able to achieve both fame and fortune with the publication of "Nana," an unardorned and best-selling tale of a prostitute (whom we can safely assume was not quite as likeable or attractive as Erin O'Brien-Moore, who plays the novel's "role model"). The lion's share of the film is devoted to Zola's attempts to clear the reputation of Army captain Alfred Dreyfus (Joseph Schildkraut), who has been framed on a charge of treason by his superiors and condemned to Devil's Island. Publishing his famous manifesto "J'accuse," Zola leaves himself wide open for public condemnation and criminal prosecution. Though he delivers a brilliant self-defense in court, Zola is found guilty. Forced to flee to England, he continues railing against the unjust, corrupt military establishment, eventually forcing a retrial and exoneration of Dreyfus. Alas, Zola is killed in a freak accident at home before he can meet the liberated Dreyfus. At his funeral, Emile Zola is eulogized by Anatole France (Morris Carnovsky), who refers to the fallen crusader as "a moment of the conscience of man." For various reasons -- some dramatic, some legal -- the actual facts of "L'affaire Dreyfus" are altered by the Norman Reilly Raine/Heinz Herald/Geza Herczeg screenplay. The fact that Dreyfus was railroaded because he was Jewish is obscured; in fact, except for a very brief visual reference, the word "Jew" is never mentioned. Only those villains whose names were a matter of public record (Major Dort, Major Esterhazy) are specifically identified. Others are referred to as the Chief of Staff, the Minister of War, etc. to avoid lawsuits from their descendants (remember that the events depicted in the film, most of which take place between 1894 and 1902, were still within living memory in 1937). As for Dreyfus himself, he 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 (Dreyfus died in 1935, outliving everyone else involved in the case). These historical gaffes can be forgiven in the light of the film's overall message: that a single small, clear voice can fight City Hall. If for nothing else, The Life of Emile Zola deserves classic status due to Paul Muni's towering performance, most notably in the unforgettable summation scene: "By all that I have done for France, by my works -- by all that I have written, I swear to you that Dreyfus is innocent. May all that melt away -- may my name be forgotten, if Dreyfus is not innocent. He is innocent ." ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
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Grouping Information

Grouped Work IDe15cecc5-62fb-5218-34d2-eb3a953dd30b
Grouping Titlelife of emile zola
Grouping Authorwarner bros pictures
Grouping Categorymovie
Last Grouping Update2019-10-08 01:58:53AM
Last Indexed2019-10-13 03:10:20AM

Solr Details

auth_author2Barrat, Robert, 1889-1970,
Calhern, Louis, 1895-1956,
Carnovsky, Morris,
Crisp, Donald, 1880-1974,
Davenport, Harry, 1866-1949,
Dieterle, William, 1893-1972,
Emery, Gilbert, 1875-1945,
Everton, Paul, 1868-1948,
Hare, Lumsden, 1875-1964,
Herald, Heinz,
Herczeg, Géza, 1888-1964,
Holden, Gloria, 1908-1991,
Jones, Marcia Mae,
Josephson, Matthew, 1899-1978.
Kingsford, Walter, 1881-1958,
Litel, John, 1892-1972,
Love, Montagu, 1877-1943,
Moore, Dick, 1925-
Morgan, Ralph, 1883-1956,
Muni, Paul, 1895-1967,
O'Brien-Moore, Erin, 1902-1979,
O'Neill, Henry, 1891-1961,
Raine, Norman Reilly, 1895-1971,
Richman, Charles, 1870-1940,
Roberts, Florence, 1861-1940,
Schildkraut, Joseph, 1895-1964,
Sheridan, Frank, 1869-1943,
Sokoloff, Vladimir, 1889-1962,
Sondergaard, Gale, 1899-1985,
Steiner, Max, 1888-1971,
Warwick, Robert, 1878-1964,
author2-roleBarrat, Robert,1889-1970,actor.
Calhern, Louis,1895-1956,actor.
Carnovsky, Morris,actor.
Crisp, Donald,1880-1974,actor.
Davenport, Harry,1866-1949,actor.
Dieterle, William,1893-1972,film director.
Emery, Gilbert,1875-1945,actor.
Everton, Paul,1868-1948,actor.
Hare, Lumsden,1875-1964,actor.
Herald, Heinz,screenwriter.
Herczeg, Géza,1888-1964,screenwriter.
Holden, Gloria,1908-1991,actor.
Jones, Marcia Mae,actor.
Josephson, Matthew,1899-1978.Zola and his time.
Kingsford, Walter,1881-1958,actor.
Litel, John,1892-1972,actor.
Love, Montagu,1877-1943,actor.
Moore, Dick,1925-actor.
Morgan, Ralph,1883-1956,actor.
Muni, Paul,1895-1967,actor.
O'Brien-Moore, Erin,1902-1979,actor.
O'Neill, Henry,1891-1961,actor.
Raine, Norman Reilly,1895-1971,screenwriter.
Richman, Charles,1870-1940,actor.
Roberts, Florence,1861-1940,actor.
Schildkraut, Joseph,1895-1964,actor.
Sheridan, Frank,1869-1943,actor.
Sokoloff, Vladimir,1889-1962,actor.
Sondergaard, Gale,1899-1985,actor.
Steiner, Max,1888-1971,composer (expression)
Turner Entertainment Co.,publisher.
Warner Bros. Pictures (1923-1967),presenter.
Warner Home Video (Firm),film distributor.
Warwick, Robert,1878-1964,actor.
available_at_catalogBelle Cooledge
Elk Grove
North Natomas
detailed_location_catalogBelle Cooledge
Elk Grove
North Natomas
display_descriptionIn 1862 Paris, Emile Zola is barely scratching out a living writing muckraking articles about the poverty of the French people and the corruption of their leaders. Until "Nana," about the life of a prostitute, becomes a smash hit and turns Zola into a celebrity, champion of the people. As he churns out a string of similar books that make him quite rich, his old friend Paul Cezanne tells him "An artist should remain poor." His determined intervention in the Dreyfus Affair, at the request of Dreyfus's wife Lucie, results in "J'accuse!" his famous denunciation of the Army, and leads to a conviction for libel. He flees to England, where he remains until granted amnesty. Unfortunately, he dies before the news that Dreyfus was exonerated and reinstated to full rank can reach him. Indicative of the mores of its time, during the course of this clear story about institutionalized anti-Semitism, the word "Jew" is never mentioned. And while most Hollywood biographies must be taken with a grain--if not a handful--of salt, the film makes a reasonable effort at accuracy and completeness.
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owning_library_catalogSacramento Public Library
owning_location_catalogBelle Cooledge
Elk Grove
North Natomas
Bib IdFormatFormat CategoryEditionLanguagePublisherPublication DatePhysical Description
ils:.b17388971DVDMoviesSpecial edition.EnglishTurner Entertainment Co., [2005].1 videodisc (116 min.) : sound, black and white ; 4 3/4 in.
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subject_facetAntisemitism -- France -- Drama
Authors -- Drama
Biographical films
Feature films
Film adaptations
France -- Intellectual life -- 19th century -- Drama
France -- Politics and government -- 19th century -- Drama
London (England) -- Drama
Man-woman relationships -- Drama
Men -- Conduct of life -- Drama
Novelists, French -- 19th century -- Drama
Paris (France) -- Drama
Politics and literature -- France -- Drama
Scandals -- Political aspects -- France -- Drama
Trials (Treason) -- France
Video recordings for the hearing impaired
title_displayThe Life of Emile Zola
title_fullThe Life of Emile Zola / Warner Bros. Pictures Inc. Present ; A Warner Bros. Picture ; Directed by William Dieterle ; Screenplay by Norman Reilly Raine, Heinz Herald, Geza Herczeg ; Story by Heinz Herald and Geza Herczeg
title_shortThe Life of Emile Zola
Conduct of life
Intellectual life
Man-woman relationships
Novelists, French
Political aspects
Politics and government
Politics and literature
Trials (Treason)
Video recordings for the hearing impaired