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Stairway to Light (1945)

Approved | | Short, Drama, History | 3 November 1945 (USA)

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The story of 18th Century French physician Dr. Phillipe Pinel, whose initiated enlightened, humane treatment of the mentally ill.



(story), (screenplay)
Won 1 Oscar. See more awards »


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Complete credited cast:
John Nesbitt ...
Narrator (voice)


Part of MGM's Passing Parade series, the focus is on Dr. Phillippe Pinel, head of an asylum during the time of the French Revolution. Pinel couldn't believe what he found on his first inspection of the facility. Several of the inmates had been there for 30 years or more and lived in horrible conditions, a prison rather than a hospital. He believed that the mentally could be cured and within two years of over a hundred inmates were released. His work was not popular and he was beaten on the street only to be rescued by one of the inmates he had released years before. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Short | Drama | History






Release Date:

3 November 1945 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Passing Parade No. 54: Stairway to Light  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Included on the Warner DVD of The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945) See more »


Narrator: The iron gates built to keep madmen in served once to keep madmen out.
See more »


Follows This Is Tomorrow (1943) See more »

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User Reviews

mental illness is not a crime
30 December 2016 | by (Portland, Oregon, USA) – See all my reviews

Sammy Lee's "Stairway to Light" looks at Philippe Pinel, who revolutionized how people deal with mental illness. This story is important nowadays because of how we see mentally ill people treated like criminals. Part of this is lack of understanding of mental illness, but it's mostly police forces that get trained to treat everything as a crime with no nuance. Does a cop have to kill a mentally ill relative of a celebrity or politician before the police get forced to treat mental illness as a health issue?

Anyway, this was the first time that I had ever heard of Philippe Pinel. Everyone who cares about studying mental illness should heed his advice. "Stairway to Light" isn't a great short, but a good introduction to Pinel's work.

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