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Arrowsmith (1931)

Passed  -  Drama  -  26 December 1931 (USA)
6.2
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Ratings: 6.2/10 from 862 users  
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Based on Sinclair Lewis's novel "Arrowsmith". A medical researcher is sent to a plague outbreak, where he has to decide priorities for the use of a vaccine.

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(based upon the novel by), (adapted for the screen by)
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Title: Arrowsmith (1931)

Arrowsmith (1931) on IMDb 6.2/10

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Nominated for 4 Oscars. See more awards »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
Richard Bennett ...
A.E. Anson ...
Clarence Brooks ...
...
Twyford (as Alec Francis)
Claude King ...
Bert Roach ...
...
Mrs. Joyce Lanyon
Russell Hopton ...
David Landau ...
State Veterinarian
Lumsden Hare ...
Sir Robert Fairland - Governor
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Storyline

Based on a Sinclair Lewis novel "Martin Arrowsmith". A medical researcher is sent to a plague outbreak, where he has to decide priorities for the use of a vaccine. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

HE FOUGHT FOR MAN... and lost a woman!

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

| |

Release Date:

26 December 1931 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El Dr. Arrowsmith  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (TCM print)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

When he hired John Ford to direct, producer Samuel Goldwyn insisted that Ford lay off the booze for the duration of the shoot. Ford complied with this request but shot the movie at an increased pace, eliminating scenes that he felt didn't add anything to the film. Helen Hayes was a little mystified when she discovered that some of her scenes weren't being shot. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Mrs. Joyce Lanyon: Do I strike you as being so hopelessly useless?
Dr. Martin Arrowsmith: If I had a twin sister, I think she'd be rather like you. That's how you strike me.
Mrs. Joyce Lanyon: That's an original compliment.
Dr. Martin Arrowsmith: That's no compliment, it's a scientific fact.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in McHale's Navy: The Vampire of Taratupa (1965) See more »

Soundtracks

William Tell Overture
(1829) (uncredited)
Written by Gioachino Rossini
Played on piano from a recording
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Impossible to squeeze Sinclair Lewis' book into a two hour film
21 November 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This film was actually nominated for four academy awards - cinematography, art direction, adapted screenplay, and best picture. Viewing it today, there are so many somewhat incomplete story lines and messages present, I am somewhat unclear about the director's goal in all of this. Sinclair Lewis' book, on which the film is based, goes into great detail about the tribulations and triumphs of studying to be a doctor and then practicing medicine back in the 1920's. It is just impossible to convey all that goes on in the novel in one 108 minute film. First of all, although young Dr. Arrowsmith comes across as an admirable protagonist who doesn't lose his idealism through all of his experiences, his character development and motivations are just not fleshed out in the film, and thus he is left an unintended mystery. His passion for medical research definitely shines through in Ronald Coleman's performance, but I had many unanswered questions. The film seems to imply that Arrowsmith is attracted to Myrna Loy's character through one scene in particular in the film. Was this intentional? The two have an affair in the novel, but if it is going to be omitted from the film - and it is - what was that one scene doing there? Arrowsmith talks a good game about loving his wife, but he seems to constantly overlook her in his passion to find new cures for diseases. Is he actually taking her for granted, or is this just a common attitude from the past in which wives always took a back seat to their husbands' careers? There is another whole part of the film that is quite troubling to a modern audience. When Arrowsmith is sent to the Caribbean to help fight the plague by testing his new serum, he is instructed to basically do what today is called a double blind study. He is to inject half the patients with his serum and the other half he is to treat conventionally. Thus, it can be determined whether or not the serum will be effective. When Arrowsmith presents his plan of action to the local plague-ridden residents, the shocked citizenry deny his help "in the name of humanity". However, a local black doctor, Oliver Marchand, tells Arrowsmith that he knows of how he can accomplish his goal - by experimenting on the black residents of the island of course! To me, this was all too reminiscent of the Tuskegee experiments and had a large Ick Factor to it.

I can't grade this film too severely since I have to take into account its year of production, the fact that dialogue had not become that sophisticated yet since talking pictures had only been universally accepted for about two years, and finally that a complex novel is being squeezed into just over an hour and a half. This film's value today is mainly as an example of one of the better transitional era talkies. Dialogue and acting were much more natural than they had been just a year or two prior to this film, but vast improvements, particularly in dialogue and technology, were just a couple of years away.


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