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 »
Goldwyn put together a lot of fine talent here, but none of it jells.
Ronald Colman, Laurence Olivier's idol and one of the screen's most likable actors, is just plain miscast. Helen Hayes projects annoyingly to the audience, stage fashion, rather than letting the camera discover her emotions, as even the young Myrna Loy knows how to do. Richard Bennett is enjoyably over-the-top as Sondelius but A. E. Anson's accent is a deal-breaker as Gottlieb (as if there weren't enough real Middle European actors in Hollywood at the time).
Sydney Howard's script is condensed to the point of silliness - the other reviewers here who contrast "Gone With the Wind" as a model of condensation are praising an uncredited Ben Hecht, not Sydney Howard. Ray June's fluid cinematography is beautiful throughout, with more than one shot that would wind up re-used in Ford's "The Searchers" many years later.
The story is that Goldwyn hired a bibulous Ford on condition that the director couldn't take one drink during production. Helen Hayes noticed that as the shoot progressed, Ford started discarding pages and then whole scenes, in a race to finish the film and get back to his booze. That may be one more reason that the film is barely coherent.
Hey, nobody's perfect all the time.
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