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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 nine-year-old son asked him to buy him a microscope because of Muni's performance. Even though he went on to win the Oscar for his performance, Muni said that this was the greatest compliment he had ever received and that all other accolades meant nothing compared to that one. See more »
In the movie Pasteur's daughter Annette marries Matel. In actual fact Pasteur did not have any daughter by the name of Annette, her name was Marie Louise Pasteur,and she married René Vallery-Radot. See more »
[addressing The Academy of Medicine - directing his remarks to the young men in the balcony]
Dr. Louis Pasteur:
You young men - doctors and scientists of the future - do not let yourselves be tainted by apparent skepticism; nor discouraged by the sadness of certain hours that creep over nations. Do not become angry at your opponents, for no scientific theory has ever been accepted without opposition. Live in the serene peace of libraries and laboratories. Say to yourselves, first, "What have I done for...
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Paul Muni has the title role in "The Story of Louis Pasteur," a 1935 film also starring Josephine Hutchinson, Anita Louise, Donald Woods, and Fritz Lieber.
The biopic focuses on Pasteur's work in sterilization, rabies, and anthrax, and includes his inoculation of the small boy Joseph Meister (Dickie Moore) which is a famous - and risky - moment in Pasteur's life. Strangely, there is nothing about pasteurization, although with a great scientist who was responsible for so many innovations, you can't show everything. And certainly the rabies and anthrax stories are more dramatic.
Some of the film, I believe, is fictionalized - his nemesis, Dr. Charbonnet, was probably created to represent some of the criticism Pasteur faced in his lifetime. The love affair between his assistant, Dr. Martel (Donald Woods) and Pasteur's daughter Annette doesn't seem to be true either. Typical Hollywood.
Nevertheless, this is a reverent biography with a strong performance by Muni and good work by the rest of the cast. It seems crazy to think that before Pasteur, doctors did not sterilize instruments and wash their hands, but apparently, they didn't.
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