Arliss Alert! VOLTAIRE on TCM Thursday, March 11 at 6AM EST

Our favorite among all the Arliss “biopics,” VOLTAIRE is an intriguing and clever film dealing with an episode in the life of the famous philosopher, author and wit, and lady’s man.

Mr. A with Doris Kenyon who plays Madame de Pompadour

Warner Bros. regarded the project as “Arliss’s film” because he had advocated the story since at least 1919 when he asked George Bernard Shaw to write a play for him. Instead two Boston newspapermen sent Mr. A their own Voltaire play and he liked it. Revising the script himself, but refusing a co-author credit, the play remained unproduced until 1933 when Darryl Zanuck at Warners “green-lighted” the production.

Alan Mowbray as the villain De Sarnac is confronted by Voltaire

The Warners publicity department didn’t know how to advertise the film because costume films were considered box office “poison” so VOLTAIRE posters suggested some sort of modern dress romantic comedy. The studio shouldn’t have worried because the film made a healthy profit of 65% once it made back its production costs. George Arliss’s final film for Warner Bros. also proved to be one of his most successful.

A souvenir coin to promote the film

Don’t miss this one!

Published in: on March 5, 2021 at 2:08 PM  Comments (6)  
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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I treasure this film of Arliss’s!! I watch it at least once a year! You, too, are a treasure for what you do for us Arliss guys! Best, Chris Cusumano, a huge fan of his and YOURS

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    • Arlissians of the world we are united!

  2. Great, as usual

  3. I dvd-r’ed this great, fascinating film from TCM years ago, & it is indeed a delight to rewatch….

  4. I will often cite Arliss’s line – I don’t know if it’s from Voltaire or Arliss – that the reason people joke about their troubles is so they don’t hang themselves.


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