Savor a Great Actor In the Film Series Muni the Magnificent
December 6, 2013
At the tender age of 12, Paul Muni played an 80-year-old man on stage at the Yiddish theater in Chicago where his parents acted.
By the time he began making Hollywood movies early in the sound era, Muni (1895-1967) was building a reputation as one of the America's greatest actors, skilled at creating his own character makeup and capable of delivering powerful performances.
He was nominated six times for Academy Awards, and in 1936 received the Oscar for best actor. Yet Muni and his work are largely unknown to today's moviegoers.
The Kansas City Public Library offers four of the actor's best films in Muni the Magnificent, a film series screening on Saturdays in December 2013 at 1:30 p.m. in the Stanley H. Durwood Film Vault at the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St.
Admission is free.
Muni plays Tony Camonte, an ambitious and ruthless gangster who rises to the top of the Chicago crime world (the character was based on Al Capone, who was in federal prison when the film was released). Scarface kicked off a cycle of hard-hitting gangster films.
Not rated | 93 minutes
I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang (1932)
One of the most devastating "social problem" films ever made, this Mervyn LeRoy-directed drama is based on the true story of a World War I veteran (Muni) who becomes involved in a robbery and is sentenced to 10 years on a brutal Southern chain gang.
Not rated | 92 minutes
The Story of Louis Pasteur (1936)
Muni won his only Academy Award for his portrayal of the renowned French scientist whose advances in microbiology revolutionized agriculture and medicine. The picture also took home Oscars for best screenplay and best story.
Not rated | 86 minutes
The Life of Emile Zola (1937)
This Oscar winner for best picture depicts the French friendship of the French writer (Muni) with painter Paul Cezanne and Zola's late-in-live involvement in the notorious Dreyfus affair, in which he championed the cause of a French officer railroaded into a conviction for treason.
Not rated |86 minutes
Free parking is available in the Library District parking garage at 10th & Baltimore.