In 1860 Paris, chemist Louis Pasteur is considered a quack within the medical community for advocating that doctors and surgeons wash their hands and boil their instruments to destroy microbes that can kill their patients. He came across this belief when discovering microscopic organisms in sour wine, the organisms which could be killed if heated sufficiently. The belief among the scientific community at large is that the organisms are the result of disease and not the cause. This belief is despite the fact that thirty percent of women die in childbirth due to child bed disease, accounting for twenty thousand annual deaths in Paris alone. The debate takes Pasteur all the way to a meeting with Emperor Napoleon III and his physician, Dr. Charbonnet, who is one of the leading opponents of Pasteur. Several years later - France now a republic - much of Pasteur's reputation changes as a government sanctioned experiment with anthrax and sheep shows that a vaccine created by Pasteur proves ... Written by
"Lux Radio Theater" broadcast a 60 minute radio adaptation of the movie on November 23, 1936 with Paul Muni reprising his film role. See more »
A newspaper is shown announcing that the government (of France) is appropriating grazing land. The text surrounding the featured item mentions dollars and the Bronx, indicating the text was likely taken from a US newspaper. See more »
This is a great film that is also very historically and scientifically correct. Almost everything in the movie REALLY happened to the real Louis Pasteur. I am a high school biology teacher and I show this film every year when we study viruses and bacteria. When I tell the students that it is a black and white film from 1935, I get moans and words of disapproval. But every year after they have viewed the film almost all students come away legitimately liking the film.
Paul Muni's performance is extraordinary and may be the best performance of his entire career. I highly recommend watching this film. It was nominated for BEST PICTURE, Paul Muni won BEST LEAD ACTOR, it won BEST WRITER, and won BEST EDITING that year.
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