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Life of Emile Zola, The (Warner 1937, Paul Muni, Gale Sondergaard)



Another successful Paul Muni biopic as the French man of letters who risked his career and freedom to stand up for an unfairly accused man. Muni stars as the French novelist Emile Zola, who rose from scandal to national treasure, and who threw his reputation and rhetorical skill behind Alfred Dreyfus, who had been wrongly accused of treason and sent to Devil’s Island. Dieterle had previously directed Muni in the historical dramas ‘The Story of Louis Pasteur’ (1936) and ‘Juarez’ (1939).

By the time he made The Life of Emile Zola, actor Paul Muni had already been nominated for four Oscars and won one. He was so respected as an actor that the opening credits for Zola billed him as ‘Mr. Paul Muni.

Academy Award Nominations: 10, including Best Director: ; Best Actor: Paul Muni; Best Supporting Actor; Best Original Story.

production details
USA | Warner Bros. | 116 minutes | 1937

Director: William Dieterle
Producer: Henry Blanke
Cinematography: Tony Gaudio
Editor: Warren Low
Music: Max Steiner
Script: Heinz Herald, Geza Herczeg, Norman Reilly Raine
Production Design: Anton Grot

Paul Muni as Emile Zola
John Litel as Charpentier
Robert Barrat as Major Walsin-Esterhazy
Gale Sondergaard as Lucie Dreyfus
Donald Crisp as Maitre Labori
Harry Davenport as Chief of Staff
Henry O’Neill as Colonel Picquart
Joseph Schildkraut as Capt. Alfred Dreyfus
Gloria Holden as Alexandrine Zola
Erin O’Brien-Moore as Nana (as Erin O’Brien Moore)
Morris Carnovsky as Anatole France
Louis Calhern as Major Dort
Ralph Morgan as Commander of Paris
Vladimir Sokoloff as Paul Cezanne
Grant Mitchell as Georges Clemenceau