Paul Muni - Rotten Tomatoes

Paul Muni

Highest Rated:   100% The Story of Louis Pasteur (1936)
Lowest Rated:   75% The Life of Emile Zola (1937)
Birthday:  
Birthplace:   Lemberg, Austria-Hungary
Born in 1895 in what was then Austria and what is now Russia, Paul Muni was brought to the U.S. in 1902 by his parents, who were both touring Yiddish-language actors. Muni made his stage debut in 1907, and before reaching his teen years was recruited by Maurice Schwartz's Yiddish Art Theatre, where Muni specialized in playing very old men. He did not perform in English until he was 29; his first Broadway appearance was in 1926's We Americans. Minus the character makeup which distinguished most of his earlier stage appearances, Muni scored a hit as a gangster in the Broadway production Four Walls. He was signed by Fox Studios in 1929, but he was so displeased by his first two films (The Valiant and Seven Faces) that he hurried back to Broadway. In 1931, Muni starred in the original stage production of Counsellor at Law, and also resumed his film career, playing a sister-obsessed Al Capone-type in Scarface. With his still-powerful portrayal of a hunted (and haunted) convict in I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang (1932), Muni launched his long association with Warner Bros. Insisting upon being permitted the broadest range of characterizations possible, Muni alternated between "entertainments" like Dr. Socrates and prestige pictures which allowed him to don makeup and experiment with accents. He is most fondly remembered for his trio of biographies: 1936's The Story of Louis Pasteur (which won Muni his Oscar), 1937's The Life of Emile Zola, and 1939's Juarez. On the set, Muni was almost completely reliant upon the advice and counsel of his wife; if she didn't like a "take," the scene would have to be reshot. Like many highly individual talents, Muni gained a reputation as an eccentric, his character quirks ranging from relaxing between takes by playing his violin to (reportedly) going into a panic whenever he saw someone wearing the color red. Extremely self-involved, Muni often came to the set with his performance totally developed in advance, and did not alter his interpretation no matter what nuances or surprises his fellow actors might throw at him. After a long period of professional disappointments, Muni made a triumphant comeback in the role of the Clarence Darrow-like Henry Drummond in the 1955 Broadway production Inherit the Wind, for which he won the Tony award. After his final film, The Last Angry Man, Paul Muni was forced to curtail his appearances due to encroaching physical infirmities; one of his last performances was in the TV play The Last Clear Chance, wherein Muni was seen sporting a hearing aid through which he was "fed" his dialogue. In addition to his Best Actor win for Pasteur and his four Best Actor nominations for The Valiant, Chain Gang, Zola and The Last Angry Man, Muni received an "unofficial" Best Supporting Actor nomination, as a write-in candidate, for Casablanca helmer Michael Curtiz's 1935 Black Fury; he came in second. Hampered by increasing blindness that kept him out of work, Paul Muni died on August 25, 1967 of a heart ailment, one month shy of his 72nd birthday.

Highest Rated Movies

Filmography

MOVIES

RATING TITLE CREDIT BOX OFFICE YEAR
No Score Yet The Golden Age of 2nd Avenue
  • Actor
1969
No Score Yet The Last Angry Man
  • Dr. Sam Abelman
1959
No Score Yet Stranger on the Prowl (Imbarco a mezzanotte)
  • The Stranger with a Gun
1952
No Score Yet Angel on My Shoulder
  • Eddie Kagle/Judge Frederick Parker
1946
No Score Yet Counter-Attack (One Against Seven)
  • Alexei Kulkov
1945
No Score Yet A Song to Remember
  • J√≥zef Elsner
1945
No Score Yet Stage Door Canteen
  • Stage Door Canteen Star
1943
No Score Yet Commandos Strike at Dawn
  • Eric Toresen
1942
No Score Yet Hudson's Bay
  • Pierre Esprit Radisson
1941
No Score Yet We Are Not Alone
  • Dr. David Newcome
1939
No Score Yet Juarez
  • Benito Pablo Juarez
1939
75% The Life of Emile Zola
  • Emile Zola
1937
No Score Yet The Woman I Love
  • Lt. Claude Maury
1937
94% The Good Earth
  • Wang Lung
1937
100% The Story of Louis Pasteur
  • Louis Pasteur
1936
No Score Yet Dr. Socrates
  • Lee
1935
No Score Yet Black Fury
  • Joe Radek
1935
No Score Yet Bordertown
  • Johnny Ramierez
1935
No Score Yet Hi, Nellie!
  • Brad Bradshaw
1934
No Score Yet The World Changes
  • Orin
1933
100% I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang
  • James Allen
1932
100% Scarface
  • Tony Camonte
1932
No Score Yet Seven Faces
  • Willie Smith
1929
No Score Yet The Valiant
  • James Dyke
1929

Quotes from Paul Muni's Characters