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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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »


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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


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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
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Did You Know?


Dr. Sahachiro Hata, portrayed in the film by Wilfred Hari, is co-credited with Paul 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 »


Becker: You assistants seem to be doing all the work. What does Dr. Ehrlich do?
Dr. Hata: He thinks!
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Referenced in The Dick Van Dyke Show: What's in a Middle Name? (1962) See more »


Du, du liegst mir im Herzen
Traditional 19th century German folk song
Played on piano by Hedy at the end
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Excellent Warners biography of famed chemist- Robinson's best performance

Edward G. Robinson should have netted a Best Actor Oscar nom for his superb screen portrayal of the dedicated chemist and researcher, Dr. Paul Ehrlich. This is one of the great Warners screen biographies, along with THE STORY OF LOUIS PASTEUR, THE LIFE OF EMILE ZOLA, and MADAME CURIE. The screenplay is literate and well deserving of its Oscar nom. The direction is tight and the acting is excellent all round. Ehrlich introduced treatment with chemical, as opposed to herbal, substances and developed cures for diphtheria and syphillis. Altogether one of the most rewarding of film experiences. Go out of your way to see it - one of Hollywood's great films.

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