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The Life of Emile Zola (1937)

Not Rated | | Biography, Drama | 2 October 1937 (USA)
The biopic of the famous French muckraking writer and his involvement in fighting the injustice of the Dreyfuss Affair.

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(screen play), (screen play) | 4 more credits »
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Won 3 Oscars. Another 5 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Erin O'Brien-Moore ...
Nana (as Erin O'Brien Moore)
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Charpentier
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Morris Carnovsky ...
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Commander of Paris
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Storyline

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 garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

He'll Hold You In Silence As Deep As Your Emotions ! See more »

Genres:

Biography | Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

2 October 1937 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Emile Zolas liv  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

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Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The second biographical film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture after The Great Ziegfeld (1936). See more »

Goofs

Zola is shown as not wanting to get involved in the Dreyfus Affair until he is won over by an emotional plea from Mme. Dreyfus following the Esterhazy trial. In fact, he had interested himself in the affair for some time before that and had written articles denouncing the anti-semitism that had condemned Dreyfus. See more »

Quotes

Émile Zola: What does it matter if an individual is shattered - if only justice is resurrected?
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Connections

Referenced in The Dick Van Dyke Show: You're Under Arrest (1965) See more »

Soundtracks

La Marseillaise
(1792) (uncredited)
Written by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle
Variations often in the score
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User Reviews

 
Rooting for the Underdog
8 July 2013 | by (Australia) – See all my reviews

Émile is like the Julian Assange of 19th Century France, though certainly less dramatic. He comes under intense criticism as his books gain popularity and the censors are under pressure from the government and the French Army to stop them. The Dreyfus Affair was still well-known at the time of the film's release, but as a person watching for the first time 75 years later I got a little lost. I failed to see the connection between the two seemingly unrelated sub-plots and the ensuing period where there was little to no appearance of the film's namesake. This was eventually cleared up for me but the reliance on assumed knowledge was not very forward-thinking. One quibble is that the women did not seem to age, I had a similar complaint watching Cimarron; throughout the decades covered by the film Zola got older and cuddlier, Dreyfus aged even more...yet their wives hardly aged a day. I wish I knew their secret. Snaps for Joseph Schildkraut whose portrayal of Captain Alfred Dreyfus scored him an Oscar® for Best Supporting Actor. It was a good film and certainly highlighted the level of corruption in France at that time, as well as rooting for the underdog. I must procure one of Zola's books and check him out.


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