Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Life of Emile Zola (1937)

Do not be fooled by this dashing cover art of Paul Muni in the The Life of Emile Zola. Much to my personal disappointment, he dons the "beard and glasses" ensem in the biopic about the famous French writer and his involvement in a trial underscored by anti-semetism. Still, I have come to the conclusion I can watch Paul in any film, and in any form. He could wear a carrot costume and sing "Old MacDonald," and I would find it wonderful.

Still, allow me a moment to oogle at this screen cap from Scarface.

Back to topic, he gives a fantastic performance in this. It makes me so sad he remains so underrated today. The Life of Emile Zola remains a serious film, but Paul inserts all these little quirks that make it more light-hearted. It comes together in one of "those" film-y courtroom speeches toward the end where I became so mesmerized I forgot where I was for a second. He also speaks with his voice I find smooth as butter ...

Speaking of performances, Joseph Schildkraut gives another good one as an officer wrongly court martialed for disclosing military secrets. He snagged an Oscar and all. And, Paul? Just a nom, but who wins them all? At least he does not have to worry about my heart.


Artman2112 said...

i'm with you all the way Francy, Muni is unjustly over looked and underrated today but to me he's one of the great actors of the 30's and 40's. He SHOULD have won his oscar for Zola! films Like Bordertown, Scarface, Chaingang and Black Fury stand as some of the best of there era and in no small part due to Muni's unique and captivating presence and performances. I have a bio on him that i have yet to read, but i'll get to it someday! i just re-watched Scarface last week on TCM's Ann Dvorak day and no matter how many times i see it i'm still blown away by Muni's intensity and charisma - he's a purdy hot stuff huh? ;)

Shybiker said...

I enjoyed this film.

And, on your recommendation, I saw "A New Kind Of Love" last week. Amusing and full of fashion. Thanks!

Francy Flicks said...

Artman, thanks, as always, for your in-depth and thoughtful comments. What is the title of your Paul Muni bio? Awhile ago, I was looking for something on him, and really could not find anything!

Artman2112 said...

Francy the book i have is called: "Actor - the Life and Times of Paul Muni" by Jerome Lawrence, pub. 1975.
i had to go gbrab it to get the exact title and i turned to a page and here's a quote of a postal telegraph Muni received after Scarface finally opened:

"Dear Paul Muni, may I congratulate you on your very great picture at the Strand. I have never seen a finer performance - Noel Coward"

pretty nifty huh?

one of these days i'll post a picture of my vintage one-sheet for "Bordertown" it has a fantastic image of Muni and Bette on it!

ok just for ha-has i did an ebay search and found one copy of this book in the UK, but its CHEAP!