Review: ‘Dreyfus’

British International, in making the picture, is understood to have followed closely along the lines of the original film as made by Sudfilm for German consumption. The film has more movement than the average British film.

British International, in making the picture, is understood to have followed closely along the lines of the original film as made by Sudfilm for German consumption. The film has more movement than the average British film.

The Dreyfus case revolved around a framed-up charge against Captain Alfred Dreyfus of the French Army of treason. Treason had been committed and Dreyfus was charged, largely because he was the only Jew on the staff. After making the charge, the army had to hold up its case or lose face, so they trumped up the evidence against him.

What made it a world-famous matter, rather than a forgotten incident in French army life, was that Emile Zola, one of the greatest of French writers, took to the Dreyfus case and fought it in the courts. Despite having as counsel Georges Clemenceau, Zola lost, but the story had gotten worldwide attention. After about 15 years Dreyfus was fully vindicated.

The film is not over-acted. If anything it’s a little under-acted in parts. Cecil Hardwicke as Dreyfus gives a fine performance; George Merritt as Zola is exceptional. Another striking performance is that of Charles Carson as Col. Picquart, who was also degraded because he found proof, after Dreyfus was sent to Devil’s Island, pointing to the fact that Major Esterhazy was the criminal and not Dreyfus. Beatrix Thomson as the wife is only so-so, largely because she’s not given much to do.

Dreyfus

UK

Production

British International/Sudfilm. Director F.W. Kraemer, Milton Rosmer; Screenplay Reginald Berkeley, Walter Mycroft; Camera W. Winterstein, J. Harvey Wheedon; Editor John Harlow

Crew

(B&W) Extract of a review from 1931. Running time: 80 MIN.

With

Cedric Hardwicke Beatrix Thomson Charles Carson George Merritt Sam Livesey Garry Marsh
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