In the 1930s he was a star. A Big Star. An Oscar winner.
But today, more than a half century after his death, how many people under 30 have ever heard of Paul Muni? Not that many, we bet.
Perhaps just as well since official Thirties Hollywood, as did the actor himself, seemed to crown Muni as the ‘giant’ actor of his time. It all seems a bit over the top today.
Muni’s impressiveness came from the shameless heroics of identifying himself with Great Causes and Heroes, writes British critic David Thomson.
Yes, Muni was highly skilled at portraying imposing historical figures — including at least one legendary criminal.
What Muni brought (to his roles) was unchecked confidence that a great actor was as noble as as any other benefactor of mankind, Thomson writes. This may be refreshing in today’s Hollywood veneration of bad guys of many stripes who totally lack Muni’s redeeming self regard.
Ok, here today’s today’s challenge. Just how much do you recall about Paul Muni. Let’s get to our Quiz:
1) Question: In his movies, Muni at one time or another played these famous historical figures, except one. Which one? — a) Napoleon;b) Don Juan; c) Emile Zola; or d) Louis Pasteur.
2) Question: Before he made his first movie in the late 1920s, Muni had an extensive back round in which one of the following platforms? a) Radio; b) the Broadway stage; c) the Yiddish Theater; or d) Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus.
3) Question: In the mid 1930’s Muni was the biggest male star at the Warner Brothers studio. But by the end of the decade, a rising you actor took his place. Who? a) George Raft; b) Errol Flynn; c) Richard Barthelmess; or d) Humphrey Bogart.
4) Question: Muni’s performance as gangster Tony Camonte in Howard Hawks’ 1932 edition of Scarface was criticized at the time for: a) Muni’s hammy portrayal; b) The movie’s ample violence; c) The movie’s long running time; or d) The movie seeming glorification of its gangster protagonist.
5) Question: Muni was Oscar nominated five times but won the best actor award only once. For which film? a) Black Fury; b) I Am A Fugitive From A Chain Gang; c) The Valiant; or d) None of the above.