That Mothers Might Live (1938) Poster

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Brilliant short
Michael_Elliott26 February 2008
That Mothers Might Live (1938)

**** (out of 4)

Oscar winning short from director Fred Zinnemann (High Noon) tells the rather amazing story of Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis, a physician who came up with a cure for Childbed Fever, which was a disease that would kill mothers soon after they gave birth. What was his amazing cure? To make doctors wash their hands before treating a patient. Semmelweis drove himself to an asylum trying to get his message of clean hands across but he wouldn't be held high until years after his death. Even though Zinnemann was young into his career here he shows signs that would turn up in later films like From Here to Eternity.
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7/10
Semelweiss had an idea
bkoganbing2 January 2014
Long before as producer/director Fred Zinnemann won Oscars for A Man For All Seasons and From Here To Eternity as a young Viennese immigrant he toiled at the MGM studios doing short subjects. It was there he showed his promise directing this Best Short Subject for 1938 That Mothers Might Live.

Going to hospital was a dubious proposition as far as your health was concerned, especially for pregnant women to give birth. Infant mortality was high in those days for any number of reasons, one of them simply because hospitals were not kept sterile and newborns picked up all kinds of infections and died.

Ignaz Philipp Semelweiss working in a hospital in Budapest came to see that just washing hands cut down the death rate in maternity wards. He was on the right track but it would be left to better known scientists like Louis Pasteur and Joseph Lister to fully develop the germ theory and the science of microbiology. It was left to Semelweiss to be ridiculed by his professional peers for most likely simply not taking the next steps that Pasteur and Lister did.

Sheppard Strudwick made his film debut in this short as the subject of same. It's a nice tribute to a forgotten and unappreciated man during his lifetime.
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