Dr. Ehrlich's Magic Bullet (1940)

Approved  |   |  Biography, Drama  |  2 March 1940 (USA)
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True story of the doctor who considered it was not immoral to search for a drug that would cure syphillis.



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

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


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


Two women stood by him while all the world jeered...a world he was trying to save! See more »


Biography | Drama


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

2 March 1940 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Doktor Ehrlich  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Although not covered in the film, Paul Ehrlich also discovered the structural formula of atoxyl, a chemical compound used in the treatment of sleeping sickness. See more »


In this film's first part, newspaper headlines talk of diptheria (sic). Must be the same ones who spell "opthalmology" (sic). The etymology of both words comes from Greek which confirms an "h" which is missing in both misspellings. Properly spelled, they are "diphtheria" and "ophthalmology." See more »


Becker: You assistants seem to be doing all the work. What does Dr. Ehrlich do?
Dr. Hata: He thinks!
See more »


Referenced in Patient Porky (1940) See more »


Du, du liegst mir im Herzen
Traditional 19th century German folk song
Played on piano by Hedy at the end
See more »

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User Reviews

Fine Biographical Drama
3 June 2000 | by (Cleveland, Ohio) – See all my reviews

Due to the enormous talent, tenacity and courage of Dr. Paul Ehrlich to persevere in his quest to develop a cure for venereal disease, the world was made a safer place. This outstanding biography relates Dr. Ehrilch's quest to conquer disease which plagued 19th century populations.

Edward G.Robinson heads a fine cast, which recognized an outstanding script and rose to the occasion. There is no overacting or exaggerated dramatics here, only earnest and sincere acting work, enhanced by a peerless Max Steiner score and James Wong Howe cinematography. William Dieterle's direction is both sensitive and solid, wrapping up a fine production, presented by Warner Bros.

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