The first American sound film to feature a black character ("Dr. Oliver Marchand" played by Clarence Brooks) with a university degree who speaks perfect English, does not shuffle, and does not act in the usual stereotypical manner in which blacks were depicted in Hollywood films at the time. See more »
In the night scene outside the research building when Dr. Arrowsmith's wife catches up to him, the snow becomes very scant and then a whole clump of snow falls, which looks like a stage hand got behind on their snowfall duties then panicked. See more »
Ronald Colman is dreadfully miscast, and far too old. He is supposed to be in his early twenties. At least as a teenager starting college Ford had the good idea of showing only the back of his head throughout a long scene, but the result is dreadful, particularly as a middle- aged voice is coming out of this first year student's invisible face. Gary Cooper, who played opposite Helen Hayes the following year in Farewell to Arms would have saved this movie, for me. I didn't believe Ronald Colman in many scenes. He seemed to be giving awkward readings of his lines. And the part where he is meant to be laughing in drunken despair is cringe- worthy. The final shot just looks as if he is stepping up to his mark in the studio with no intention of going any further, which is of course what he is doing, but it really looks as if it is what he is doing. This is Ford as the sorcerer's apprentice, making a frightful mess with his wands, before he mastered the art of miracle-making. The high points for me were those strong shots of Helen Hayes and a cane chair, earlier with a cigarette and later an open door, reminding me of the famous open door in The Searchers. But this clearly touched enough people in the Academy to be up for best picture of 1931. So a must for Oscar completest and a chance to see Helen Hayes in action during the early thirties. Also Myrna Loy, quietly choosing sexy clothing in her bedroom is a visual feast. And it's always nice to see Ronald Colman, even though he seems to have uncharacteristically failed to engage with his character for most of this rather clunky story.
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