Disraeli (1929): Biopic Starring George Arliss in Oscar-Winning Performance

At the age of 60, the respectable British actor George Arliss was signed by Warner to repeat his stage successes on the big screen.  “Disraeli” was a role that made him a theater star and one that he himself had filmed as a silent in 1923.


In one of the studio’s earliest biopics, Arliss plays the Jewish politician who converted to Christianity and went on to become one of Queen Victoria’s closest counselors and confidants.   One of the best sequences in the tale, adapted by Julian Josephson from Louis Napoleon Parker’s stage play, centers on Disraeli’s efforts to buy the strategic Suez Canal.


Warner promoted the film as an important event thematically and politically, describing Arliss as “the first gentleman of the talking screen.”  And indeed, Arliss

Plays the role with class and elegance. As a result of the positive reviews, the biopic was very popular with audiences, and Arliss became an unlikely movie star, running strong for a decade or so.


Oscar Nominations: 3


Picture (Outstanding Production)

Writing Achievement: Julian Josephson

Actor: George Arliss


Oscar Awards: 1




Oscar Context:


The Best Picture (or Production, as it was then called) went to Lewis Milestone’s anti-war drama, “All Quiet on the Western Front.”  Frank Lloyd won the Director Oscar for “The Divine Lady,” and the Screenwriting Oscar went to Frances Marion for the prison yarn “The Big House.”




Disraeli (George Arliss)

Lady Clarissa Pevensey (Joan Bennett)

Lady Mary Beaconsfield (Florence Arliss)

Charles/Lord Deeford (Anthony Bushell)

Sir Michael/Lord Probert (David Torrence)

Hugh Meyers (Ivan Simpson)

Mrs. Agatha Travers (Doris Lloyd)

Dutchess of Glastonbury (Gwendolyn Logan)

Potter (Xharles E. Evans)

Mr. Terle (Cosmo Kyrle Bellew)




Directed by Alfred Green.

Screenplay: Julian Josephson, based on the play by Louis Napoleon Parker.

Camera: Lee Garmes.

Editing: Owen Marks.

Music: Louis Silvers.


Running Time: 90 Minutes.