The Life of Emile Zola: Best Picture Winner – 1937

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The Basics – The Life of Emile Zola (1937) – Director – William Dieterle; Paul Muni, Gale Sondergaard, Joseph Schildkraut; Run Time – 116 mins. – Biography, Drama – “The biopic of the famous French muckraking writer and his involvement in fighting the injustice of the Dreyfuss Affair.”

Prior Knowledge

Kristy – The only thing I know is that Emile Zola was a well-known French author and activist.

Koob – The only knowledge that I have of this movie was what I read on Wikipedia about Emile Zola; that he was a French writer and that he wrote “J’accuse” and was involved in the Dreyfus Affair

Fun Facts from IMDB

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.

 Studio boss Jack L. Warner, who was himself Jewish, personally ordered that the word “Jew” be removed from all dialogue in this movie, apparently in order not to offend the Nazi regime and hurt business for the film in Germany–this according to Ben Urwand in his controversial 2013 study, ‘The Collaboration: Hollywood’s Pact With Hitler’.
This was the first film to receive 10 Academy Award nominations.

Considered highly contentious in France, the film wasn’t granted a proper release in that country until 1952

Viewing Source – Amazon Instant Video ($2.99 rental)

Post Viewing Responses

Ratings (with 1 star = the worst and 5 stars = the best)

Koob: 2 stars

Kristy: 2 atars

Double Gobble Score: 2 stars

The Takeaway: A fairly standard biopic with some solid acting and an interesting history lesson.

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