The Story of Louis Pasteur (1936)

Unrated  |   |  Biography, Drama, History  |  February 1936 (USA)
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The biography of the pioneering French microbiologist who helped revolutionize agriculture and medicine.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Josephine Hutchinson ...
Dr. Jean Martel
Fritz Leiber ...
Dr. Charbonnet
Henry O'Neill ...
Porter Hall ...
Dr. Rossignol
Raymond Brown ...
Dr. Radisse
Dr. Zaranoff
Halliwell Hobbes ...
Dr. Lister
Dr. Pfeiffer
Ruth Robinson ...
Mrs. Meister
Walter Kingsford ...
Iphigenie Castiglioni ...
Empress Eugénie


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 Huggo

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Release Date:

February 1936 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Louis Pasteur  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


(Turner library print)

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


After playing a series of hard-bitten roles in films like Scarface (1932) and Black Fury (1935), Paul Muni lobbied hard for a change of pace. Jack L. Warner, head of Warner Brothers, wasn't keen on his star taking such a change of direction but eventually relented, effectively opening up a tidal wave of biopics that became the mainstay of Warner Brothers' output in the late 1930s and early 1940s. See more »


Pasteur refers to the "rabies virus" prior to completing development of his vaccine and immunization of Joseph Meister in 1885, but the idea of a non-bacterial pathogen didn't exist until 1892, and the term "virus" itself was coined when the first (tobacco mosaic) was isolated in 1898. See more »


[about Pasteur]
Dr. Charbonnet: You remember a few years ago, he was the cause of a slight controversy on the subject of sour wine.
Napoleon III: Oh, yes, I recall.
Dr. Charbonnet: He claimed to have found little animals in it... infinitesimal beasts.
Napoleon III: But are there such creatures? Do they really exist?
Dr. Charbonnet: Your Majesty, microscopic organisms have long been observed. They spring into being of their own accord wherever there is putrid matter or fermentation. They are the result rather than the cause of disease. By heating wine to certain ...
See more »


Spoofed in A Day at the Races (1937) See more »

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User Reviews

Nice film for biology teachers
19 June 2004 | by (Iowa) – See all my reviews

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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