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The Great Moment (1944)

Passed  -  Biography | Comedy | Drama  -  6 September 1944 (USA)
6.3
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Ratings: 6.3/10 from 640 users  
Reviews: 16 user | 16 critic

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

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
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Storyline

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 <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

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


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

6 September 1944 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El gran momento  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Sturges intended this to be a much more serious film. Panicked by some inconclusive reviews, Paramount cut it as a traditional Sturges comedy. The director, no longer associated with the studio, asked former friend and studio chief Frank Freeman to entitle the film "Triumph Over Pain," and he wrote and offered to write, direct, and appear in a prologue gratis. Paramount did not want to expend the additional $50,000 this would incur, and they ignored his offer. See more »

Quotes

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

 
Pulling out teeth
1 October 2014 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

I'm a great admirer of Preston Sturges but this movie of his seemed confused as to whether it wanted to be a straight drama or something more light-hearted. In the end, it tries to mix both elements but the outcome is ultimately unconvincing.

The story of a pioneering dentist in the mid-19th Century seeking to find a usable ether treatment so that patients don't have to suffer painful operational treatments while still awake, its presentation lacks the sparkle of his more celebrated screwball comedies and political satires of the time.

I think it would have worked slightly better as a serious drama, although the invention of a workable anaesthetic doesn't on paper make for the most gripping drama. Perhaps it's for this reason that Sturges feels the need to insert moments of pure slapstick (in particular when his test patient, played by William Demarest goes crazy after receiving the wrong dosage and there's the whole episode of the doc pursuing his pet dog to further test his concoction.

Joel McCrae is the idealistic young dentist in pursuit of a no-side-effects sleeping draught and Betty Field his exasperated but still loyal wife. I quite liked both but felt their respective characterisations were sometimes contradictory. As for the Damascan-type conversion of McCrae at the end, I felt this was overdone and dine in a heavy-handed, not to say very sudden way.

Throughout there are signs of Sturges' directorial flair and way with a narrative, but this in truth is a two-paced movie with different strands pulling against each other to the detriment of the whole. He would assuredly improve as the decade progressed.

Joel McCrae has the lead part as the crusading Dr Morgan and Betty Field co-stars as his supportive if simpering wife.


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