The Story of Louis Pasteur (1936) Poster

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High-minded, idealistic, and very exciting!
michaela-517 January 2000
What a pleasure to see a film so unabashedly idealistic! The film's emotional ending (a well-deserved and long-overdue tribute to Pasteur's work by his collegues) centers on a closing speech by Pasteur (Paul Muni) in which he explains, simply and with passion, that making a contribution to the wellbeing of mankind is the most important work of all.

Pasteur's discovery of the role of bacteria in spreading disease seems self-evident now, but he faced years of ridicule and isolation before his findings were accepted and played their part in transforming our world.

This film is a vaccine against the cynical, self-referential, "in it for me (and maybe my small circle of friends)" films of the recent decades. See it and feel good about being human.
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A fine example of what Hollywood has forgotten how to do
alberto f. cañas4 April 1999
"The Stroy of Louis Pasteur" is an example of Hollywood's Golden Era at its best. The first of the Warner Bros "biopics", it can boast of a great performance by Paul Muni, with none of the mannerisms that became a trade mark in the last and sorry years of his career. It was an example of the "good citizenship" that Warner Broa boasted of: a highly educational film that at the same time was very entertaining. The screen play was masterful and won the Oscar it the deserved. Authors Sheridan Gibney and Pierre Collings were able to dramatize scientific struggles and investigations. This was also the beginning of the most fruitful period in William Dieterle's career, an from that moment on he shared with Michael Curtiz the top assignments at Warner. It is now known that The Story of Louis Pasteur was made with a very low budget. You don't notice it. It is a wonderful show, as was the following year "The Life of Emile Zola" and, with some reservations, "Juarez" in 1939. There are notable performances in the picture by Fritz Leiber and Akim Tamiroff among others.
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Nice film for biology teachers
dougteach19 June 2004
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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Nice Warner Brothers bio
blanche-216 February 2009
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.

Good movie.
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Wisdom And Perseverance
bkoganbing25 June 2007
1936 was the career turning point year for Paul Muni. It was the year that he got the first of three biographical films at Warner Brothers that would forever give him his place in cinema history. The Story of Louis Pasteur (1827-1895) was also the film that got Muni his Academy Award for Best Actor that year.

It's hard to imagine the world of science and medicine without the contributions of Pasteur. He was a chemist and as such his scientific experiments when they encroached on the medical field was greeted with suspicion and hostility. His chief critic Dr. Charbonnet played by Fritz Lieber nearly sank Pasteur's work with a bold move that I cannot tell about, but will make you gasp when you see it on screen.

Josephine Hutchinson is Muni's ever faithful wife Marie and she does well by what is really a rather colorless part. It was the same for Muni in his biographical picture the following year of Emile Zola where Gloria Holden also had a part that called for little, but to look faithful. There is a nice subplot involving Donald Woods as an early convert to Pasteur's way of thinking wooing and winning daughter Anita Louise.

The film goes through Pasteur's main achievements of sterilization during medical procedures and cures for anthrax and hydrophobia. The story and screenplay which also won Oscars for 1936 is simple and straightforward enough for any lay person to follow.

There are several good performances of men of science who opposed and/or supported Pasteur's work, in some cases opposed then supported. Porter Hall, Akim Tamiroff, and Halliwell Hobbes who has a small part as Joseph Lister, the English scientist.

Pasteur fought hard for his ideas against the medical and scientific establishment of his day and lived long enough to receive due acclaim from his nation of France and the world. It's still an inspirational story about a man convinced of the rightness of his cause and having the wisdom and perseverance to see it through.
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Decent biography of Muni never mentions "pasteurized milk"...
Neil Doyle11 October 2009
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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"Find the microbe...Kill the microbe."
moonspinner5511 October 2009
In 19th century France, a ridiculed chemist branching out into medicine is called a charlatan by Europe's most prestigious doctors, even after he finds a vaccine for anthrax in sheep; next, he tackles hydrophobia in dogs, then humans. Medical history, compressed and simplified for the sake of popular entertainment, but no less rewarding for it. Paul Muni gives an impressive, Oscar-winning performance as Louis Pasteur, so fiercely dedicated to his findings and the results they receive, he drives himself to a partial stroke. One might think Pasteur as a family man might be difficult to live with, yet his loved ones merely beam and glow with pride, as does the opposition (seen as ego-fed and pig-headed) once Pasteur's experiments pay off. It's an awfully brief biography at just 85 minutes, yet it certainly has charm and moments of solid drama. **1/2 from ****
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A Decent Bio Of An Important Man
ccthemovieman-117 August 2006
This was a pretty interesting historical account of the man who first discovered that microbes - germs - were the cause of many sicknesses. Dr. Louis Pasteur then went about the make changes so these germs were not so prevalent and causing so much sickness. We can thank him for "pasteurization."

Paul Muni does a fine job of playing the title role. He seemed to always play intense roles.

The story is very frustrating, however, as we watch "Pasteur" become the target of an ignorant medical profession at the time, constantly trying to discredit the famous man's work. We know, of course, through history that he was right so to listen to his naysayers go on and on and on is frustrating.

At least we know Pasteur and his discoveries were finally accepted and he was given the recognition he deserved. In the end, there is a final, very moving scene that gives him his due.
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More fiction than fact
edalweber21 November 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Apparently none of the previous reviewers,most of whom praise the film for its accuracy, have actually read a biography of Louis Pasteur.The most glaring inaccuracy is in the relationship between Pasteur and Napoleon III.Back in the 1930's the latter was invariably shown in a bad light.While far from an admirable character-he was an inept politician and a self-appointed "military genius" who allowed France to be dragged into a disastrous war,he was not the stupid reactionary depicted here. He had an intelligent interest in science,and like many other people in the 19th century saw a bright future because of the improvements it would bring.Far from exiling Pasteur, he was his PATRON,building him a laboratory and providing him with all the resources that he needed for his research.While the lab was under construction, Pasteur became gravely ill.A bureaucrat, deciding it was a waste of money to build a laboratory for someone who would soon be dead, ordered work halted on his own authority.When the emperor heard about this, his outrage shook the bureaucracy so that there was a flurry of buck-passing, and work promptly resumed.The Emperor personally visited Pasteur to comfort him and reassure him that he would get his lab.The emperor would often bring members of his court to admire Pasteur's projects,and it was obvious to everyone that Pasteur was one of the emperor's favorites.Pasteur's main worry concerning the Emperor was that Napoleon thought Pasteur was virtually a miracle worker who could do almost anything, and was constantly assigning him tasks outside of his previous experience.Pasteur, a very modest man, was always protesting this, but Napoleon would say that he had complete faith in him,and Pasteur despite his misgivings, always came through.They always had a close and friendly relationship,and after the Emperor was overthrown, Pasteur refused to say a bad word about him,grateful to the end of his life.

The part about his daughter having the baby, and Pasteur sacrificing his principles to get a doctor, never happened.The part about the anthrax and rabies, for which he was famous, is generally correct, but the notion that the anthrax experiment raised him from obscurity to fame is false.He was famous and respected at the time this happened.This movie is OK from a dramatic standpoint,but very distorted as biography.
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Great Performances
Michael_Elliott28 February 2008
Story of Louis Pasteur, The (1935)

*** (out of 4)

Bio pic of chemist Louis Pasteur (Paul Muni) who found a cure for the black plague but was then blacklisted when he made the claim that childhood fever was caused when doctors didn't wash their hands before delivering babies. This is a pretty strong film from start to finish that features a terrific performance by Muni who rightfully deserved his Best Actor Oscar. I was really shocked at how well Muni was here because I was a little skeptical going in. God knows he's given countless great performances throughout his career but I was shocked at how well he play Pasteur who of course used his brains more than his muscles or mouth like many of Muni's other roles. There's not a single second where Muni comes off as himself but the entire film he gives the performance that we think we're actually watching Pasteur work. The supporting cast is also very good with Josephine Hutchinson, Anita Louise and Donald Woods all turning in good work.
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good film
kyle_furr17 February 2004
Much better than The Life of Emilie Zola and Juarez. This movie stars Paul Muni in an Oscar winning performance as a scientist who is looking for a cure for anthrax and then rabies, all the other doctors laugh at him. Paul Muni does a good job and this is the same director of Life of Emilie Zola and Juarez.
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A dandy film about a great man of science
MartinHafer4 March 2007
While the actual details of the life of the great chemist, Louis Pasteur, are mixed up in this glossy MGM biography, the general facts are all there and the film is both captivating and inspiring. In many ways, the movie DR. EHRLICH'S MAGIC BULLET (starring Edward G. Robinson) is Warner Brother's answer to this MGM film and BOTH are well worth seeing and are about equally entertaining.

Paul Muni plays Pasteur, though much of his earlier career is left out of the film. Instead of his many advances and breakthroughs, the film focuses on three--his sterilization crusade, his inoculation for Anthrax and his cure for Rabies. This is probably not a bad idea, since the film never would have fit into the a standard length otherwise.

I also assume that some of the characters in the film were fictitious, as I tried doing an internet search on Dr. Charbonnet as well as read up on Pasteur and could not verify some of the film's details--this isn't at all unusual for a bio-pic from the 1930s plus none of this fundamentally changed the overall facts.

The film is well-written, compelling and makes science kind of cool. So, if you want to expose kids to culture and science, this is a good and relatively painless way to do it.

By the way, the actor that played Joseph Lister is pretty much dead-on to the real Lister--right down to the muttonchops!
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Paul Muni Gets Pasteurized
wes-connors26 September 2015
In 1860 Paris, doctors are collectively disgruntled by chemist Paul Muni (as Louis Pasteur). He advises surgeons, "Wash your hands. Boil your instruments. Microbes cause disease and death to your patients." In the opening scene, a doctor is shot due to his patient believing in Pasteur's advice. The controversy causes problems for Pasteur. Ten years later, the renowned man works on cures for anthrax (the black plague) and rabies (after a dog bites Dickie Moore)...

This is an exceptionally well-produced, straightforward biography of Louis Pasteur by director William Dieterle and the crew at Warner Bros. Paul Muni forwarded his film career considerably. He is nothing less than perfect, and Mr. Muni won a much-deserved "Best Actor" Oscar for his performance. So many early "Academy Awards" were chosen due to politics, popularity and promotion. It's nice to see the old Academy occasionally got one right...

The film is lacking, however, in not presenting Pasteur as a younger man (oddly, Muni is only made to look older). And, the fact that you drank "Pasteurized" milk isn't even covered.

******** The Story of Louis Pasteur (1935-11-23) William Dieterle ~ Paul Muni, Josephine Hutchinson, Fritz Leiber, Donald Woods
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Applying the Germ Theory.
Robert J. Maxwell7 August 2014
Warning: Spoilers
These biographies of scientists and other notables of the past, made in the 1930s, often by Warners, are almost always enjoyable as well as instructive. Oh, the life stories are generally polished and simplified but sometimes we really don't want or need a more complex portrait. "Lawrence of Arabia" was pretty challenging but activated all our critical faculties. That's work.

Louis Pasteur, Paul Muni here, believed in the germ theory of disease at a time when the French Academy didn't. According to this movie, they believed in spontaneous generation -- that organisms emerged whole from suitable environments. Speaking from a position of expert ignorance, I recall from a course in microbiology that the notion of spontaneous generation had already been dispelled by F. Redi and Lazzaro Spallanzani. Yet, here we have the Academy believing that mosquito larvae grew out of stagnant water by themselves. I think, though, that Pasteur more or less applied the germ theory by developing vaccines that conclusively wrapped up the issue.

The script adopts the usual pattern. Nobody believes in what Pasteur is doing -- discovering why wine went sour, trying to cure anthrax and rabies and puerperal (or childbirth) fever. I'd thought most of the credit for the last was due to Ignaz Semmelweis, who noticed that more women died in childbirth while in the hospital than at home. In his facility, doctors went directly from practicing on cadavers to aiding in childbirth -- without washing their hands. Semmelweis was an interesting guy who only get a brief mention, once, early in the film. He also invented a crude stethoscope so that the doctor didn't need to press his ear directly on a woman's, er, bosom. Like many other innovators, including Pasteur, Semmelweis was ridiculed and eventually wound up in a mental facility.

But that's off track. Despite doubts and ridicule, Pasteur, his ideas and his methods, prevailed. Surprisingly, there is no mention of "pasteurization." Joseph Lister ("Listerine") appears briefly.

What a time it was -- the last half of the 19th century, with a scientific revolution going on. Not just Pasteur, Semmelweis, and Lister, but Koch, Fleming, and Edward Jenner (who found a vaccine for smallpox). Freud was born in 1856, three years before Darwin publish "The Origin of Species." Paul Muni is good as the impatient Louis Pasteur who receives his just honors at the end. He's often criticized for overacting, attributed to his origins in the Yiddish theater. I don't find him at all outrageous and often extremely effective. I was an usher in the Yiddish theater for a while. Now THAT'S overacting! The rest of the cast is professionally competent. There are better examples of the genre -- Edward G. Robinson in "Dr. Ehrlich's Magic Bullet", for instance. But this occupies a respectable place in the genre.
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Almost laughable
Agamemnon724 November 2010
Muni does give a good performance in this film, but he gets no help at all from a comically inept screenplay. You keep expecting someone to say "Eureka! I've got it!". Things wouldn't be more preposterous or clichéd if they did.

I realize movies date over time, but I love older films and usually find them far, far better written than their more recent counterparts. This film is a sorry exception.

Pasteur's efforts, struggles and eventual triumphs would certainly make a worthy subject for a good film biography. This, sadly, is not it.

I think the Academy was acknowledging what Muni had to contend with in awarding him for this. Had they waited, he might have been awarded for an equally good performance in a much better movie (THE LIFE OF EMILE ZOLA) one year later.
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All the thrills of a junior high textbook
marcslope5 February 2008
Meticulous but standard-issue biopic of the great 19th century French microbiologist, with a story arc that's a little too predictable. We know the medical Establishment will refuse to admit it's wrong about germs causing disease; we know Pasteur will have to fight long and hard to win respect; we know he'll have a quiet, supportive, loving wife; we know the daughter and his colleague will form whatever love story there is. It's nicely photographed, and Best Actor Muni lands somewhere between his Thirties extremes of hamminess ("Juarez") and restraint ("I Am a Fugitive"). He's affecting in the final scene, but that's due more to the fail-safe story engineering than any histrionic genius. He was a dedicated and versatile actor, and this is another worthy portrait in his gallery, but it's just not exciting or surprising.
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Such is fame!
JohnHowardReid25 October 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Director: WILLIAM DIETERLE. Screenplay and original Story: Sheridan Gibney and Pierre Collings. Uncredited script contributor: Edward Chodorov. Photography: Tony Gaudio. Film editor: Ralph Dawson. Art director: Robert M. Haas. Costumes: Milo Anderson. Make-up: Perc Westmore. Music composed by Heinz Roemheld and Bernhard Kaun, directed by Leo F. Forbstein. Dialogue director: Gene Lewis. Assistant director: Frank Shaw. Associate producer: Henry Blanke. Historical research: Herman Lissauer. Producer: Hal B. Wallis. Executive producer: Jack L. Warner.

Copyright 31 January 1936 by Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc. A Cosmopolitan (William Randolph Hearst) Production. New York opening at the Strand, 10 February 1936. U.S. release: 22 February 1936. U.K. release: 3 July 1936. Australian release: 20 May 1936. 85 minutes.

SYNOPSIS: Chemist has a bug about germs.

NOTES: Academy Award, Best Actor, Paul Muni (defeating Gary Cooper in Mr Deeds Goes To Town, Walter Huston in Dodsworth, William Powell in My Man Godfrey and Spencer Tracy in San Francisco).

Academy Award, Original Story, Sheridan Gibney and Pierre Collings (defeating Fury, The Great Ziegfeld, San Francisco and Three Smart Girls).

Academy Award, Screenplay, Sheridan Gibney and Pierre Collings (defeating After the Thin Man, Dodsworth, Mr Deeds Goes To Town and My Man Godfrey). Also nominated for Best Picture (The Great Ziegfeld). Number 6 in the annual poll of U.S. film critics conducted by The Film Daily. Number 2 (after Mr Deeds Goes To Town) on the National Board of Review's 1936 list of Best American Pictures.

Negative cost: a paltry $260,000. Shot in 5 weeks from mid-August to late September 1935. The subject is also treated in the French film Pasteur (1935) from writer/producer/director/star, Sacha Guitry.

COMMENT: Dieterle's direction is not as impressive as his subject matter, though it has its memorable moments (the darkened laboratory as Pasteur goes to fetch his rabies vaccine and enters the door with the light behind him).

Fortunately, the film itself with its exceptionally lavish production values and its grand array of character performances, is one that can be enjoyed again and again.

The pace is brisk and the screenplay crystallizes Pasteur's opposition quite excitingly. I also liked the way Pasteur is shown working with a team of assistants. The film breathes authenticity.

And I loved Lister's ironic comment as the crowd cheers some acrobats, "Such is fame!".
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Paul Muni Discovers Vaccines
evanston_dad7 November 2016
A tasteful and thoughtful fictionalization of Louis Pasteur's development of vaccines for anthrax and rabies that nevertheless peddles in the kind of hagiography one would expect from films of this time period, when things like subtlety were in short supply.

"The Story of Louis Pasteur" was a prestige pic from Warner Bros. off-shoot Cosmopolitan, designed to win the studio acclaim and Oscars. It did both, scoring a Best Actor win for Paul Muni, eminently watchable as Pasteur but who deserved to win both three years earlier for his intense performance in the intense "I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang" and a year later for his performance in another Warner Bros. biopic, "The Life of Emile Zola." Indeed, there is speculation that 1936 saw a lot of vote rigging in the Academy and that Muni's win was the result of some under the table deals among studio execs to ensure that certain actors and certain films would win key awards. But it's the kind of role and performance that could easily have won on its own merits, and indeed biopics have been one of the surest vehicles for actors seeking Oscar noms and wins ever since.

The film also won two writing awards, the first of only four films in Oscar history to do so, when rules allowed both the screenplay and the original story on which it was based to be eligible even if written by the same people, which in this case were (Pierre Collings and Sheridan Gibney). Its fourth and final nomination was for Best Picture, in a year that found the other nominees in that category to be "Anthony Adverse," "Dodsworth" (my personal favorite), "Libeled Lady," "Mr. Deeds Goes to Town," "Romeo and Juliet," "San Francisco," "A Tale of Two Cities," "Three Smart Girls," and that year's winner, "The Great Ziegfeld."

Grade: A-
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Paul Muni deserved the Oscar for his performance of the famous scientist
jacobs-greenwood13 October 2016
This true story of the French scientist's battle to establish modern medical methods is not to be missed. It features Paul Muni's Academy Award winning Best Actor performance. The strong supporting cast includes: Josephine Hutchinson as his dependable wife, Anita Louise as his daughter, Dickie Moore as a child who gets rabies, and Henry O'Neill, Porter Hall and Akim Tamiroff (among others) as doctors. The film also won both writing Oscars and was nominated for Best Picture too. Directed by William Dieterle.

Pasteur is an outstanding scientist, one whose discipline and methods allow him to achieve great insights, enabling him to discover the root causes of deaths in livestock and people (e.g. germs). Unfortunately, since he is not a doctor, much of what he learns is discarded or viewed with suspicion, seemingly none of what he says is believed. However, during his struggle for credibility, he slowly wins over his former critics and is recognized today for many great accomplishments, including the discovery of several diseases, how they spread, and preventative vaccines.
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A noble movie, if not a great one
richard-178719 February 2016
This movie is of a type that Hollywood can no longer make in the same way. If you compare it to something recent like the new movie about Steve Jobs, of that title, you can see what I mean. In the latter movie, Jobs faces doubters and adversity, but there is never the idea that he does so to save humanity; he wants to prove himself right. In *The Story of Louis Pasteur," Pasteur (movingly portrayed by Paul Muni, who won an Academy Award for his portrayal) is driven by a desire to help his fellow man, and he speaks of it in noble tones.

Like *Edison, the Man* (1940) or *Madame Curie* (1943), *The Story of Louis Pasteur focuses on a scientist's dogged pursuit of a discovery despite endless repeated failures. (*Edison, the Man* does this particularly well.) The scientist also bears up under repeated public derision because of those failures, proving himself to be right in the end. As a model of self-denial and perseverance in the pursuit of a greater common good, this movie is particularly good. Compare it to *Steve Jobs* and you can see that.

But, despite the noble model it provides, it really isn't a particularly enthralling movie. (There, *Steve Jobs* is much better.) I find it very hard to understand why it won the 1937 Oscar for best screenplay, especially given that it was up against *Dodsworth*, *Mr. Deeds goes to Town*, and *My Man Godfrey*. Yes, Pasteur's final speech to the Academy of Science and Medicine is moving, but much of the script before that is rather flat. (It was not even nominated for Best Director, and that is telling.) The story this movie tells is a great one, but it doesn't really tell it very powerfully.

It's certainly worth seeing, but I can't imagine seeing it more than once, unlike some of its 1937 contenders for Best Picture, mostly notably *Dodsworth*, *Mr. Deeds goes to Town* (HOW many times have I seen that?), *San Francisco*, and especially *A Tale of Two Cities,* which is a real masterpiece.
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"Live in the serene peace of libraries and laboratories."
utgard1417 July 2014
Enjoyable biopic about the famous chemist Louis Pasteur, played by Paul Muni. It doesn't focus on all of the man's life and achievements. But it tries to cover some of the highlights, including his fight against anthrax and rabies. Muni does a great job. He's backed up by solid actors like Donald Woods, Henry O'Neill, Fritz Leiber, and Halliwell Hobbes, as well as the lovely Anita Louise and Josephine Hutchinson. It's a well-written and directed film. There are liberties taken with the facts but this is a movie not a history book. As with the best of Hollywood's great old biopics, its focus is to tell the inspirational story of a historical figure in an entertaining way. It does just that. Fans of Paul Muni and fans of old school Hollywood biopics will love it.
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Science vs The Invisible Monsters
LeonLouisRicci17 July 2014
Warner Brothers Studio Condensed the Accomplishments of the Great Chemist into an 85 Min. Movie that would become an Example of the Biopic. It is Quite Remarkable how they Managed to put so Much into such a Restrictive Running Time.

It is a Testament to the Skill of the Screenplay and the Dynamic Acting of Paul Muni that Supercharged this Film into an Exciting and Informative Experience. Muni Captures Every Scene with Expressions that a Full Beard can do Little to Hide as He Searches for Clues and Cures to Find and Kill the Invisible Monsters.

The Production Design is Elegant but Simple and the Supporting Cast of Family Members, Doctors, and Politicians add a Backdrop of Intensity to Pasteur's Work. A Rich and Educational Movie that is Easily Understood for Youngsters and is Highly Dramatic for Adults.

The Result is a Nice Packaging of an Important Man, His Breakthrough Science, and the Ridicule that is Typical of Anything that goes Against the Status Quo. An Unnecessary and Shameful Obstacle that has been Overcome by Many Innovators Throughout History.
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Where's the Pasteurization? Story of Louis Pasteur ***
edwagreen23 October 2007
Warning: Spoilers
While Paul Muni does an admirable acting job here, this was certainly not one of his best performances. He was far better in "The Life of Emile Zola" as well as "Juarez" and "The Last Angry Man."

The film discusses Pasteur's battles with anthrax and rabies. It's amazing that pasteurization is not discussed. Am shocked that the milk producers didn't carry on about this.

There are nice supporting performances by Josephine Hutchinson as his devoted wife as well as Fritz Leiber, Dr. Charbonnet, a doctor who would not believe Pasteur's idea and was willing to fight and humiliate him all the way.

There is a nice historical backdrop to the film, especially as it relates to the Franco-Prussian War of 1871.

Donald Woods and Anita Louise are wasted in their roles as the son-in-law and daughter to Pasteur.
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Tempted to give it an "8"...high praise
vincentlynch-moonoi1 February 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Many of us see 1939 as a watershed year in American cinema. Not just because of the quality of film elements, but also because of a maturity in scripts. In a sense, I always compare films in this general period to "Gone With The Wind". And compared to GWTW and several other films of 1939, this film -- made only 3 years earlier -- seems very old-fashioned. That is not to say that it is not a good film. It is excellent.

It's one of several great bio-pics of that era, and one that earned its star (Paul Muni) an Oscar, as did the screenplay. Both well deserving.

I'm sure that there will be those who will point out inaccuracies in the film...liberties that the screenwriters took to make it a good story. But, from what I can see the gist of the story is accurate and makes the key point -- how daring such early scientists were, basically starting with nothing but an idea, pursing it, and developing great discoveries. It is really is rather inspirational.

The cast here is superb. As I mentioned, Paul Muni received the Best Actor Oscar, and it was only right that he did. A number of the supporting actors did a terrific job as well: Josephine Hutchinson -- a much underrated actress as Marie Pasteur. Donald Woods as an associate doctor. Halliwell Hobbes as Dr. Lister. And more.

A wonderful bio-pic; highly recommended...and perhaps deserving of a place on your DVD shelf.
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The story of a legendary chemist!
Aditya Gokhale1 August 2012
It was the latter half of the 19th century. The year was 1860, ten years before the French Third Republic came into being. Medical Science hadn't made the kind of advancements that it saw later, and disease and death were in abundance. It was a well-known fact that thirty percent of women died in childbirth due to Puerperal fever, better known as childbed fever, accounting for about twenty thousand annual deaths in the city alone!

Yet there was a grave ignorance of monumental proportions, even as one man, a chemist dared to think differently. He urged medical practitioners to boil their instruments; or in modern parlance, 'sterilize' them, before using on patients in addition to thoroughly washing their hands with a disinfectant before working on patients. He firmly believed that more than half the deaths were caused due to lack of hygiene and the transmission of 'germs' from objects such as the doctor's instruments! Not surprisingly, the man was laughed at, and written off to be a charlatan, a quack! After all, what would a chemist know, that the doctors couldn't see! But the man had seen it all. He had first discovered what causes wine to go sour. His relentless experimentation in his laboratory had helped him discover that microorganisms were the major cause of disease (while the doctors still firmly believed that these organisms were a result of disease rather than the cause!).

The man was Louis Pasteur. And the technique he gave to the world was pasteurization!

William Dieterle's 1936 biographical film "The Story of Louis Pasteur", at its modest 85 minutes length, is a tad short to even qualify for a proper biographical film. It begins on a rather startling note with the scene of a doctor being shot by a silhouetted gunman. One wonders if they've taken cinematic liberties to such an extent as to make the lead actor Paul Muni feel at home owing to his crime film beginnings! It is later learnt that Pasteur is indirectly responsible for the murder of the doctor, for reasons best left for the viewer to find out! It's a rather silly beginning, one the film could've easily done without. "The Story of Louis Pasteur" does take a few minutes to attain a grip on its narrative which eventually does make for very engaging drama.

It is astonishing how a simple film revolving around a man and his microscope has been made into something so riveting, that you can't take your eyes off, once it picks up steam. The primary focus is on Pasteur's taxing attempts to prove to the then Emperor Napolean III, his findings about the microscopic creatures and their connection to disease, and later, post the advent of the Third republic, his diligent attempts at developing the first successful vaccines for deadly diseases like Anthrax and Rabies. Of course, there is resistance to his claims and discoveries, more specifically from Pasteur's most vocal critic, Dr. Charbonnet (Fritz Leiber). As the audience, our hearts go all out to Pasteur and we find ourselves rooting for the industrious scientist. We watch with bated breath and find ourselves praying for him to succeed in his experiments, even when we are well aware of the eventual outcome. We feel the triumph felt by Pasteur when he weeps tears of joy upon tasting victory!

But Pasteur didn't succeed instantly. There were numerous failed attempts and broken test tubes and dead ends from whence he found new directions. The entire medical fraternity turned against him but he stood his ground and ended up having the last laugh anyway! But the path to victory wasn't easy for him, and "The Story of Louis Pasteur" succeeds in conveying to us, this particular facet of Pasteur's dedication to science. It is heartening to watch Pasteur and his loyal team of scientists toil away in the laboratory attached to his house, as his devoted wife Marie (Josephine Hutchinson) cooks supper for the entire team and also stands by her husband through thick and thin. It is awe-inspiring to see him stumble upon clues almost by accident that lead him to make some of the most startling discoveries known to mankind now. It is also slightly scary to see him succumb to a suggestion of using an untested vaccine on a little boy who is supposedly at death's door anyway!

The film may appear somewhat dated with regard to the set design and slightly poor production values. But that is hardly a hindrance, thanks to the gripping script and taut editing. There are some subplots in the film, that weren't entirely necessary, though; that of a romance between Pasteur's daughter Annette (Anita Louise) and the young Dr. Martel (Donald Woods) who wins Pasteur's favor earlier in the film. It seems to be there merely to dramatize the proceedings. Ditto for the climactic twist of fate in the final few minutes when Annette is on the brink of delivering a baby. The events in those last few minutes seem contrived to the extent of being melodramatic, although, by then you are so in love with the protagonist that you don't care for the minor hiccups. Because mostly, apart from the solid performance of Fritz Leiber, it is the magnificent Paul Muni that holds our attention.

The under-appreciated Paul Muni, in his Oscar winning performance of the steadfast scientist, manages to render this film much more watchable than it actually is. It is his earnest act that ultimately salvages even the weakest scene. His final speech, just minutes before "The End" flashes on the screen, as he struggles with a walking stick, thanks to being in a recovery phase from a paralytic stroke, is nothing short of inspiring! Paul Muni should be reason enough for anyone to look up "The Story of Louis Pasteur". They don't make 'em like him anymore! Score: 8/10
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