The Great Moment (1944)

Passed  |   |  Biography, Comedy, Drama  |  6 September 1944 (USA)
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The biography of Dr. W. T. Morgan, a 19th century Boston dentist, during his quest to have anesthesia, in the form of ether, accepted by the public and the medical and dental establishment.


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Betty Field ...
Eben Frost
Louis Jean Heydt ...
Julius Tannen ...
Professor Charles T. Jackson (as Julian Tannen)
Vice-President of Medical Society
Porter Hall ...
Dr. Heywood
Grady Sutton ...
Homer Quimby
Donivee Lee ...
Betty Morton
Harry Hayden ...
Judge Shipman
Torben Meyer ...
Dr. Dahlmeyer
Victor Potel ...
First Dental Patient (as Vic Potel)
Thurston Hall ...
Senator Borland


In the winter of 1868, Eben Frost goes to a Boston pawnshop and redeems a silver medal, inscribed to "Dr. W.T.G. Morton, the Benefactor of Mankind, with the Gratitude of Humanity." Frost drives to a country farmhouse and gives the medal to Morton's widow, Elizabeth Morton who explains to her daughter, Betty, that Frost was the first person given anesthesia by her father, Boston dentist Dr. W.T.G. Morton. The story flashes back 20 years to find Morton being wildly acclaimed by medical students as the man whose discovery of "letheon" had forever ended pain as, before that day, even amputations were performed with the patient fully conscious. "Letheron", unknown to everybody but Morton and Elizabeth, is simply highly rectified sulfuric ether - cleaning fluid - easily obtainable at a pharmacy. By keeping the secret, Dr. Morton could be rich, but he had rather be poor than see a girl strapped to an operating table under the knife of Dr. Warren, and he reveals his secret to a group of ... Written by Les Adams <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Paramount's escapist laugh tonic! Hilarious as a whiff of laughing gas!


Passed | See all certifications »




Release Date:

6 September 1944 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Great without Glory  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Paramount purchased the rights to an MGM short, "Life of William Morton, Discoverer of Anesthesia." The short was evidently intended to be an entry in John Nesbitt's Passing Parade" series but was never filmed. See more »


Prof. Warren: Gentlemen! This is no humbug!
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User Reviews

Far from great
3 February 2008 | by (Derry, Ireland) – See all my reviews

Decidedly odd, you might think, coming from Preston Sturges but then again, perhaps not as the idiosyncratic Sturges seldom stuck to 'conventional' genre pictures; even his screw-ball comedies were more perverse than what was the norm in Hollywood at the time, so this biopic of the man who discovered anesthesia for use in the dental profession is a far cry from the usual Hollywood biopic, (even the subject is obscure and unlikely). Not, of course, is it necessarily any better for that. It's a slight, disingenuous little picture veering uneasily from drama to comedy without making much of an inroad either way.

Joel McCrea, (blander than usual), is the crusading dentist, (sic), and Betty Field, the wife who eggs him on. Some of the Sturges stock company pop up in sundry supporting parts, (noticeably William Demarest), but none make much of an impression. They, like the film, remain largely inoffensive. Not a failure, precisely, but a blip nevertheless.

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