Dr. Paul Ehrlich was the German physician who developed the first synthetic antimicrobial drug, 606 or Salvarsan. The film describes how Ehrlich first became interested in the properties of the then-new synthetic dyes and had an intuition that they could be useful in the diagnosis of bacterial diseases. After this work met with success, Ehrlich proposed that synthetic compounds could be made to selectively target and destroy disease causing microorganisms. He called such a drug a "magic bullet". The film describes how in 1908, after 606 attempts, he succeeded. Written by
Dr. Sahachiro Hata, portrayed in the film by Wilfred Hari, is co-credited with Ehrlich in the development of Salvarsan 606. See more »
When Rhineland Chemical is shipping boxes of 606 to cities around the world, one box is labeled "St. Mary's Hospital, Sidney, Australia." A second box to a different hospital shows the city correctly spelled as Sydney. See more »
an intelligent and interesting movie that was ahead of its time
It's very hard to believe that this movie was made in 1940, as much of the plot centers on Dr. Ehrlich's attempts to create a cure for syphilis. At times, the studio appeared to dance around the whole STD aspect of the disease, but it was extremely daring to try to cover such a taboo topic.
It's actually quite amazing that a story as seemingly mundane and medical research is as compelling as it is. I think this is due to excellent directing, writing and acting. In particular, Edward G. Robinson is a standout as the lead. This movie clearly demonstrates that his range far exceeded playing gangsters or that annoying Egyptian in The Ten Commandments.
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