The Life of Emile Zola

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MGM was the studio generally associated with "prestige" pictures -- those with lavish sets and costumes, often boasting literary source material. However, for The Life of Emile Zola, the high-brow opulence is courtesy of Warner Bros., typically known for modern "ripped-from-the-headlines" stories, and the experiment in grandeur earned the studio an Oscar for Best Picture and another for best screenplay.

William Dieterle directed Paul Muni as French novelist Émile Zola, who defends the falsely-accused Captain Dreyfus (Joseph Schildkraut in an Oscar-winning performance). The Dreyfus affair, which was a cause célèbre of antisemitism during the latter years of the Nineteenth Century, formed an exciting climax to Zola's career as a champion of truth and liberty, and is, consequently, the dramatic highlight of this film biography.

The Life of Emile Zola was added to the National Film Registry in 2000.

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