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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)

Dr. Ehrlich's Magic Bullet (1940) on IMDb 7.5/10

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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 »


Dr. Paul Ehrlich: I hope this horse is good and strong. H's going to be very sick.
Stable Boy: He used to be a racehorse, doctor - a champion!
Dr. Emil Von Behring: If this horse does what we want him to, he'll be the most famous horse in the world.
Stable Boy: He's too old to race again.
Dr. Paul Ehrlich: Well, this is a race against death.
See more »


Featured in Magic Bullets (1943) See more »


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

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

an intelligent and interesting movie that was ahead of its time
6 June 2005 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

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.

21 of 22 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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