The Life of Emile Zola
The Life of Emile Zola (1937)

This biographical film opens with French novelist Emile Zola starving in a Parisian garret. Each time Zola attempts to write "the truth," he is stymied by governmental censors. Still, he is able to achieve both fame and fortune… More

Rated: G
Running Time:
Release Date: October 2, 1937
DVD Release Date: February 1, 2005
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Critic Score: 75% Rotten Tomatoes™ Critic Reviews

Consensus: Well-written, well-meaning and solidly acted, The Life of Emile Zola film may ultimately be more earnest than dramatically engaging.

Kate Cameron
New York Daily News

The most distinguished and most important contribution to the screen this year.

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Dave Kehr
Chicago Reader

This act of altruism on behalf of the brothers Warner was rewarded with the best picture Oscar for 1937; it isn't so much bad as utterly, magisterially bland.

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Tony Sloman
Radio Times

This is one of a remarkable series of Warner Bros melodramatic biopics whose central performances were once considered prime examples of cinematic acting.

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TIME Magazine

Last week Warner Brothers released a movie which is probably the outstanding prestige picture of the season. It is also one of the best shows.

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Tom Milne
Time Out

Carefully mounted, well directed and acted, but basically the sort of well-meaning pap out of which Oscars are made.

Witney Seibold

As a courtroom drama, and as a depiction of government corruption, this film is pretty first rate.

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John C. Flinn Sr.

The film is destined to box office approval of the most substantial character. It is finely made and merits high rating as cinema art and significant recognition as major showmanship.

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Frank S. Nugent
New York Times

A great and valuable and stirring film document.

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Donald J. Levit
ReelTalk Movie Reviews

Stacks up well against many a film biography of the subsequent three-quarters of a century.

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More reviews for The Life of Emile Zola

Flixster Audience Score: 73% Flixster User Reviews
Chris Weber
This film is based on the life/work of French writer and activist Emile Zola. It starts out as a stand biopic, but then becomes a stirring courtroom drama, as… More
Walter M.
In 1862, Emile Zola(Paul Muni) and his friend Paul Cezanne(Vladimir Sokoloff) are a pair of starving and freezing artists trying to survive in Paris. Even a… More
jay nixon
Creaky biopic of an interesting and worthwhile story. Keeping in perspective when it was made the film is not bad, Muni a fine actor when not in costume, say in… More
Byron Brubaker
A story of a great man. A story about justice, injustice, and the power of intellect to overcome corruption. German director Dieterle carefully constructs a… More
Randy Tippy
Paul Muni is so good I'd have to invent a new vocabulary to adequately describe his performance. Fantabulous. Outstandnistic. Wonderical.
John Ballantine
Muni's triumphant portrayal of Emile Zola is good but it feels dated. It is well presented and filmed for its period and Muni done well but there is an… More