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
An electrician for Warner Bros. studio came up to Paul Muni after an advanced screening of the film and told him that his 9-year old son asked him to buy him a microscope because of Muni's performance. Even though he went on to win the coveted Oscar Muni said that this was the greatest compliment he had ever received and that all other accolades meant nothing compared to that compliment. 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 »
Decent biography of Muni never mentions "pasteurized milk"...
PAUL MUNI gives an eloquent performance as Louis Pasteur in this abbreviated biography of his life which never has time to mention some of his other achievements, such as pasteurized milk. Instead, it concentrates on the difficulties he has of convincing any of the medical experts that microbes are the cause of disease. His experiments with finding a cure for anthrax and rabies are at the centerpiece of the story.
JOSEPHINE HUTCHINSON is his devoted and loyal wife who has to remind him to eat dinner when he's caught up in his experiments with animals to prove his theories. ANITA LOUIS and DONALD WOODS provide what little romantic interest there is in the tale, strictly cardboard characters little more than ciphers.
Muni ages convincingly without the use of heavy make-up and won a Best Actor Oscar for his detailed performance. HALLIWELL HOBBES as Dr. Lister, AKIM TAMIROFF as Dr. Zaranoff, PORTER HALL as Dr. Rossignol, and FRITZ LEIBER as his nemesis, Dr. Charbonnet, are excellent in supporting roles.
Nicely directed by William Dieterle.
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