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The Fight for Life (1940)

 -  Drama | History  -  7 March 1940 (USA)
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An interne witnesses the death of a young mother in a maternity hospital delivery room. Disturbed that he might have overlooked something that could have prevented the death, he goes to a ... See full summary »



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Title: The Fight for Life (1940)

The Fight for Life (1940) on IMDb 5.3/10

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win. See more awards »


Complete credited cast:
Myron McCormick ...
The Interne
Storrs Haynes ...
The Teacher
2nd Teacher
Dudley Digges ...
Head Doctor
The Young Woman
Dorothy Urban ...
The Grandmother
Effie Anderson ...
The Receptionist


An interne witnesses the death of a young mother in a maternity hospital delivery room. Disturbed that he might have overlooked something that could have prevented the death, he goes to a maternity clinic in a city slum in order to learn more about the mortality of motherhood and to find new ways to prevent it. Written by Jim Beaver <>

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Drama | History






Release Date:

7 March 1940 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


As revealed in "Ramblin' Man: The Life and Times of Woody Guthrie" by Ed Cray, singer-songwriter Woody Guthrie had a small acting role in this movie, thanks to his friend Will Geer, who's also in it. See more »

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User Reviews

Bleak documentary re obstetrics and the urban poor.

This is one of a handful of documentary dramas made by Pare Lorentz in the late thirties and early forties. This one looks at a maternity clinic in an unidentified urban setting, where an intern under the guidance of dedicated obstetricians attempts to learn how to save the lives of impoverished and undernourished mothers and their babies amidst the slums.

It is pretty depressing stuff with a number of non-actresses in the roles of the many pregnant mothers - with glassy-eyed expressions of hopelessness and helplessness, to whom birth hardly seems a joyous occasion. The slums are pretty awful.

This whole 69 minute enterprise is bolstered by an Oscar-nominated musical score by Louis Gruenberg (one of three nominations he was to receive - the others for SO ENDS OUR NIGHT (1942) and THE COMMANDOS STRIKE AT DAWN (1942)). It is certainly inventive and effective, using staccato rhythmic patterns with drum and solo piano to emulate heart beats and tension. As well as full orchestra, there is also good use made of the solo cello. The full orchestral moments are terribly dramatic, at some points far more dramatic than the scenes they are underscoring, but all in all an unusually thoughtful score for a non-narrative film and a deserved Oscar nom, in my opinion.

Only two other documentaries (VICTORY THROUGH AIR POWER and BIRDS DO IT, BEES DO IT) have been nominated for Original Musical Score Oscars.

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