Friday, December 4, 2009

Latest Oscar-winner seen: The Life of Emile Zola (1937)

Well... Yummy. This was a very oscary movie, a typical piece from the 30s. It was not the greatest film, I've ever seen but I certainly enjoyed it even though it had some really big mistakes.
It's about the famous French writer, Emile Zola (played by Paul Muni) and his involvement in the infamous Dreyfus affair.
Let's just say: it did not deserve to win Best Picture at all. The competition was so much stronger that Zola just pales in comparision with them. The Good Earth and the magnificent Awful Truth (which is my win and one of my all-time favorites by the way) were just much-much better. But this does not mean that The Life of Emile Zola was awful, actually I really enjoyed it. The screenplay was a bit sentimental and slow, the story really slows down sometimes and I just wanted to see something interesting, in some scenes it was so apparent that the writers were short of great ideas. But they provided Paul Muni with some damn good monologues.
By the way Paul Muni: he really deserved an Oscar for this performance (it was much-much better than his mediocore work in The Story of Louis Pasteur). At the beginning his performance was quite bad actually, he was not very convincing as the young Zola, but that lasted for 10 minutes or so. But after that he's so great, I was so impressed by his big speech at the court, that I decided to pick him for my win.
Joseph Schildkraut was very convincing and moving as Dreyfus. He had very limited screentime, but he managed to create a believable character, for which you really care and you actually feel sorry for that man. Although I really thought he was very good, I feel that Ralph Bellamy gave a better performance in The Awful Truth (see that movie please, it's so great).
And I nearly forgot to mention Gale Sondergaard (the first Supporting Actress winner), who gave a good performance, which should have received a nomination. As the desperate wife of Dreyfus she was very moving.
The technical part was also great and I have to mention one scene for the ages: when to people are waiting for the verdict in the rain and we see plenty of black umbrellas. It's just unforgettable.
Ok, to sum up I enjoyed The Life of Emile Zola, but it was not really worthy of such acclaim.
My grade: 7.5/10
Nominations: Best Picture (WON); Best Director (William Dieterle); Best Actor (Paul Muni); Best Supporting Actor(Joseph Schildkraut WON); Best Writing, Screenplay (WON); Best Writing, Original Story; Best Assistant Director; Best Music, Score; Best Art Direction; Best Sound;
My wins: Best Actor (Paul Muni) for now because I haven't seen Robert Montgomery who's said to be great.

1 comment:

joe burns said...

Haven't seen this this