This Oscar-nominated short film tells the story of the discovery of radium and how it is used in medicine.

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »
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Pete Smith ...
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Storyline

This Pete Smith Specialty tells the story of the discovery of radium and how it is used in medicine. The difficulty of obtaining the element is also demonstrated. Several tons of ore yield only minute amounts of the element. At the time of filming, the entire world's supply of radium was 1-3/4 pounds. Written by David Glagovsky <dglagovsky@prodigy.net>

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Approved
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23 October 1937 (USA)  »

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(Western Electric Sound System)

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1.37 : 1
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Narrator: After 40 years of scientific effort and the labor of mining many hundred thousand tons of ore, a meager pound and three quarters of radium is the entire world supply today.
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User Reviews

 
Nothing funny or romantic about this serious Pete Smith specialty...
18 June 2009 | by (U.S.A.) – See all my reviews

I prefer my Pete Smith Specialties to be on the light side, so it's unusual to find such a relentlessly grim short subject on the subject of radium--with very little in the way of romance, which makes the title questionable.

The accidental study of radium gets off to a start with one man's discovery of stones exposed to the rays of sunlight and then informing the Curies of his experiment. They were so excited by the prospect of looking further into the matter that they began their famous exploration of radium.

Over the years, other discoveries reveal that the substance has a curative power, dangerous as it is--and the narrator refers to the Jekyll/Hyde nature of radium which has to be carefully handled and controlled when scientists are working on it.

The narration ends with the fact that over the decades radium has been beneficial in saving numerous human lives.

A low-key episode from Pete Smith of moderate interest.


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