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Arrowsmith (1931)

Approved | | Drama | 26 December 1931 (USA)
Based on Sinclair Lewis's novel "Arrowsmith". A medical researcher is sent to a plague outbreak, where he has to decide priorities for the use of a vaccine.

Director:

John Ford

Writers:

Sinclair Lewis (based upon the novel by), Sidney Howard (adapted for the screen by)
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Nominated for 4 Oscars. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Ronald Colman ... Dr. Martin Arrowsmith
Helen Hayes ... Leora Tozer Arrowsmith
Richard Bennett ... Gustav Sondelius
A.E. Anson A.E. Anson ... Professor Max Gottlieb
Clarence Brooks Clarence Brooks ... Dr. Oliver Marchand
Alec B. Francis ... Twyford (as Alec Francis)
Claude King ... Dr. Tubbs
Bert Roach ... Bert Tozer
Myrna Loy ... Mrs. Joyce Lanyon
Russell Hopton ... Terry Wickett
David Landau ... State Veterinarian
Lumsden Hare ... Sir Robert Fairland - Governor
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Storyline

Based on a Sinclair Lewis novel "Martin Arrowsmith". A medical researcher is sent to a plague outbreak, where he has to decide priorities for the use of a vaccine. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

HE FOUGHT FOR MAN... and lost a woman!

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Italian | Swedish

Release Date:

26 December 1931 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

El doctor Arrowsmith See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (TCM print)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System) (uncredited)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

John Ford later said of working with Ronald Colman in this film, "Arrowsmith was already cast when I went over to Goldwyn. Ronnie and I were friends, so I was delighted. Though he was the leading star of the business then, nobody ever acknowledged what a superb actor he was. They just accepted him as Ronald Colman. He did everything so easily. He never played drunken scenes or grew a beard or did any of those things which get Academy Awards, but he was the greatest actor I have ever known. [...] You didn't have to work with Ronnie - it was that simple. He knew exactly what to do and was letter-perfect when he did it." See more »

Goofs

In the night scene outside the research building when Dr. Arrowsmith's wife catches up to him, the snow becomes very scant and then a whole clump of snow falls, which looks like a stage hand got behind on their snowfall duties and then panicked. See more »

Quotes

Dr. Martin Arrowsmith: You've got to get used to hearing my ideas.
Leora Arrowsmith: Oh! I'm gonna hear a lot of them?
Dr. Martin Arrowsmith: You're going to marry me.
Leora Arrowsmith: You don't tell me.
Dr. Martin Arrowsmith: I certainly do.
Leora Arrowsmith: Now, you know, I shouldn't wonder if you're right. Of course, it's a little early in the game to be dead sure, but I shouldn't wonder.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: The story of a man who dedicated his life to service and his heart to the love of one woman. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Citizen Kane (1941) See more »

Soundtracks

William Tell Overture
(1829) (uncredited)
Written by Gioachino Rossini
Played on piano from a recording
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Reasonably good acting, but Sinclair Lewis should have sued
29 September 2005 | by theowinthropSee all my reviews

Sinclair Lewis wrote ARROWSMITH in 1923, after the first two of his blockbuster novels that dissected American Society (MAIN STREET and BABBITT). Lewis decided to make a complete study about the medical profession. As such it was brilliant - far more brilliant than this movie is. If one can think of the novel as what it is - an expose about what is wrong concerning the medical profession - the novel is a glass of fine champagne, and this movie version is a glass of lemonade! Lewis takes us along the entire career of Martin Arrowsmith - through medical school, through practice in a small town, through his marriage to Leora Tozer, through his going to the big city (New York) where he is connected to a large, well-known Foundation, to his battling the plague (and losing his wife and his co-worker), and his finally coming to terms with what he wants from his profession. For the key to the novel is that medicine is extremely lucrative, but Martin is very idealistic. He does not seek riches, but wants to help his fellow man.

The problem, as the film proceeds, is that the people who run or control the profession (or society, for that matter) can care less for the idealistic goal. For one reason or another they want results that are pragmatic or banal. For example, one would think that the Foundation (a swipe at the Rockefeller Foundation, by the way) would be really gung ho about an idealistic medical researcher. They certainly have the laboratories and talent for real progress. But they also have a strong desire for immediate results that can be used for propaganda purposes. So they keep pushing aside certain desires for private testing that Arrowsmith and his mentor Max Gottlieb (A.E. Anson) are requesting on the bubonic plague serum. The director of the foundation insists that Arrowsmith goes to a plague saturated island with his co-discoverer, for immediate SUCCESSFUL results. This leads to massive tragedy in the novel and the film.

This doesn't come across too clearly in the film. Instead it looks like Martin (Colman) would like more time to test, but the emergency prevents it. This weakens the novel's criticism. And this is not the only example.

When Martin starts out in the small town, the local medical community has this idiot running it who knows squat about modern medicine, but is great at self-advertising. The man, who looks like Theodore Roosevelt, thinks that the height of local medical activity is running a "health day" parade. This too is not in the movie.

The film, in short, short-changes Lewis's wonderful novel. In fact, more of the spirit of Lewis's attack can be found in the Robert Donat - Rosalind Russell - Ralph Richardson film THE CITADEL (based on an A. J. Cronin expose novel). That's rough, considering how important the critique by Lewis really was.

The film's cast gives it their all, particularly Helen Hayes (still the young actress who won her first Oscar that same year for THE SIN OF MADELON CLAUDETTE), Myrna Loy (in a heavily cut role) and Colman. John Ford's directing was somewhat mediocre in this film, unlike later works of his. So I give it a "6" out of "10".


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