July 28, 2014

Films

I Accuse! – 1958 | 99 mins | Drama | B&W

Plot Synopsis

I Accuse!

Historical MGM drama dealing with ‘L’Affaire Dreyfus’,one of the most notorious scandals in French history in which Alfred Dreyfus stood trial, was imprisoned on Devil’s Island, his subsequent retrial, pardon and exoneration. The detailed reconstruction of events runs through the facts, and only once or twice touches on the ambiguities of the infamous case which became a national tragedy. The compelling film, perhaps intended as an allegory about the McCarthy era, is scripted by Gore Vidal from a book by Nicholas Halasz. The highly distinguished all-star cast rises satisfyingly to its big moments but José Ferrer’s acting demonstrates more technique than emotion.

Set in 19th-century France, Jewish officer Capt Dreyfus (José Ferrer) of French military intelligence is convicted of treason on a trumped-up charge. Later the real traitor, hard-up Major Esterhazy (Anton Walbrook),is exposed, but the military turns his trial into a whitewash. Dreyfus is found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment on Devil’s Island.

Recruiting the aid of some of France’s most famous citizens, most notably novelist Emile Zola (Emlyn Williams) and fellow-officer Major Picquart (Leo Genn), and following outrage home and abroad, Dreyfus’s gains are trial. When their error and subsequent cover-up is revealed, the Army tries to save face by offering Dreyfuss a pardon, even though they will not quash their accusation of treason. Left with no alternatives, Dreyfuss accepts, returning to France in disgrace. Needing money once again, Esterhazy sells a full confession to a London publisher that fully exonerates Dreyfus.

Production Team

José Ferrer: Director
Freddie Young: Cinematography
Elizabeth Haffenden: Costume Design
Frank Clarke: Film Editing
William Alwyn: Original Music
Sam Zimbalist: Producer
Gore Vidal: Script
AW Watkins: Sound Department

Cast

José Ferrer: Capt Alfred Dreyfus
Anton Walbrook: Maj Esterhazy
Viveca Lindfors: Lucie Dreyfus
Leo Genn: Maj Picquart
Emlyn Williams: Émile Zola
David Farrar: Mathieu Dreyfus
Donald Wolfit: Gen Mercier
Herbert Lom: Maj DuPaty de Clam
Harry Andrews: Maj Henry
Felix Aylmer: Edgar Demange
George Coulouris: Col Sandherr
Peter Illing: Georges Clemenceau
Michael Hordern: Prosecutor, second Dreyfus trial
Laurence Naismith: Judge, Esterhazy trial
Eric Pohlmann: Bertillon
Ronald Howard: Capt Auril
John Chandos: Drumont
Charles Gray: Capt Brossard



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