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Dr. Ehrlich's Magic Bullet (1940)

Approved  |   |  Biography, Drama  |  2 March 1940 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 1,050 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.



(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


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


This film generated controversy because many thought the subject of syphilis too scandalous a topic for a motion picture in 1940. 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 »


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


Kaiserwalzer, Op. 437 (Emperor Waltz)
(1889) (uncredited)
Music by Johann Strauß
Played on piano by Hedy
See more »

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User Reviews

Biographical Melodrama Well Done
15 July 2005 | by (South Florida) – See all my reviews

How I long for the era when Hollywood was capable of producing films based upon the lives of great scientists and physicians. Current moguls may consider the material too trite, but that just proves how they misjudge quality cinema.

Dr. Ehrlich's Magic Bullet is a great old biographical melodrama that probably does overstate certain emotional moments, nonetheless it helps recall the bigger-than-life accomplishments of scientists who otherwise would be forgotten.

Edward G. Robinson, though apparently too mature for the role, knew a good script when he read it, and ended up with the finest performance of his long career. Credit goes to the Warner Studio, too, for making a film about the cure for syphilis when even the mention of the disease was prohibited in motion pictures. Those who enjoy films like Edison, The Man will find this more involved with science and less with personal matters than the MGM/Spencer Tracy epic.

This is grand Warner's entertainment with a lesson or two for all of us.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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