Friday, March 27, 2015

I Accuse! on again

I've briefly mentioned the film I Accuse! before, in conjuntion with its star Jose Ferrer, and with its screenwriter Gore Vidal. It's airing again tomorrow afternoon at 12:15 PM on TCM if you haven't seen it any of the other times I've mentioned it.

Those who know history will recognize the title as the English translation of Émile Zola's open letter "J'accuse!" which was published in response to the injustice of the case of Alfred Dreyfus. Dreyfus, played here by Jose Ferrer, was a man of Jewish and German descent who served as a colonel in the French army in the early 1890s. However, it transpired that somebody was passing secrets, and Dryfus was accused and convicted, for which he was sent ot the infamous prison on Devil's Island, a location that's served for quite a few other films such as Papillon. In fact, the real traitor was Major Esterhazy (Anton Walbrook in this movie).

Of course, this is stuff most people will know. It's also been done in the movies quite a bit, with probably the most famous film being The Life of Émile Zola. The biggest difference in terms of story between the two movies is that the Zola biopic focusses on his whole life, although the Dreyfus affair was one of the most important bits. But Zola was already a famous writer before Dreyfus came on the scene. I Accuse! looks specifically on Dreyfus and his family; his wife Lucie is played by Swedish actress Viveca Lindfors. Both movies are good, and would make a worthy double feature.

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