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Dr. Ehrlich's Magic Bullet (1940)

Approved  |   |  Biography, Drama  |  2 March 1940 (USA)
7.5
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 1,044 users  
Reviews: 25 user | 8 critic

True story of the doctor who considered it was not immoral to search for a drug that would cure syphillis.

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(original screen play), (original screen play), 2 more credits »
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Title: Dr. Ehrlich's Magic Bullet (1940)

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
Maria Ouspenskaya ...
Montagu Love ...
Sig Ruman ...
Dr. Hans Wolfert (as Sig Rumann)
...
Mittelmeyer
Henry O'Neill ...
Dr. Lentz
Albert Bassermann ...
Edward Norris ...
Dr. Morgenroth
...
Judge
...
Dr. Brockdorf
Louis Jean Heydt ...
Dr. Kunze
Charles Halton ...
Sensenbrenner
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Storyline

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 Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

HE DREAMED THE GREATEST ADVENTURE MAN HAD EVER KNOWN...and made that dream come true! (original print ad - mostly caps) See more »

Genres:

Biography | Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

2 March 1940 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Doktor Ehrlich  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Paul Ehrlich's cure for syphilis, Salvarsan 606, became the most prescribed drug in the world until the discovery of penicillin in the 1940s, when it became the preferred treatment for the disease. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Defense Attorney: So while no cures can be attributed to '606,' 38 deaths resulted from it's use?
Dr. Emil Von Behring: 39.
Defense Attorney: 39? You know of another death?
Dr. Emil Von Behring: Yes, syphilis. The death of syphilis itself.
Dr. Hans Wolfert: Dr. von Behring you have written and lectured against the Ehrlich theory.
Dr. Emil Von Behring: Yes, I did, Dr. Wolfert, but you must understand it is the task of science to discover the truth. There is no shame attached to the recognition of error.
See more »


Soundtracks

Wein, Weib und Gesang, Op. 333 (Wine, Women and Song)
(1869) (uncredited)
Music by Johann Strauß
Played when Paul and Hedy dance
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Dr. Ehrlich's Magic Bullet works magic on the viewer
1 October 2005 | by (Van Buren, Arkansas) – See all my reviews

Of all the great biographical flicks Hollywood pumped out in the late 30's and early 40's, such as "Juarez," "The Story of Louis Pasteur," "Abe Lincoln in Illinois," and "The Life of Emile Zola," "Dr. Ehrlich's Magic Bullet" is the best. And that's saying a lot since the ones mentioned above are screen classics from the Golden Age. In "Magic Bullet" everything seems to gel, from the brilliant acting of all involved, including once-in-a-lifetime performances by Edward G. Robingson, Otto Kruger, Ruth Gordon, and Maria Ouspenskaya, to the outstanding direction of William Dieterle. Also this biography is far more factual and less sensational than the others from the period. Even the subject involved in the biography was somewhat taboo in 1940, syphilis. Many in the movie audiences of 1940 may have reacted the same way the guests at Franziska Speyer's dinner party reacted upon hearing the word. Though not at all shocking today, it must have been somewhat shocking then. I'm sure that's why it was handled with kid gloves by William Dieterle. On the other hand the problems Dr. Ehrlich faced in getting support for his magic bullet is comparable with problems faced by today's scientists in getting funding to do needed research to find a cure for AIDS.

The writers, who included John Huston, did the research needed for an intelligent and well-written script. The viewer may hesitate to watch at first when he/she discovers that the movie is about a German scientist who discovered an effective treatment for syphilis, but just pay attention for a few seconds and there is no turning back. Seeing the entire film becomes necessary. So enjoy a masterpiece from the past.


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