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The Great Moment (1944)

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.

Director:

Preston Sturges
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Joel McCrea ... William Thomas Green Morton
Betty Field ... Elizabeth Morton
Harry Carey ... Professor John C. Warren
William Demarest ... Eben Frost
Louis Jean Heydt ... Dr. Horace Wells
Julius Tannen ... Professor Charles T. Jackson (as Julian Tannen)
Edwin Maxwell ... Vice-President of Medical Society
Porter Hall ... President Franklin Pierce
Franklin Pangborn ... Dr. Heywood
Grady Sutton ... Homer Quimby
Donivee Lee 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:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

6 September 1944 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Morton the Magnificent See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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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

Elizabeth Morton: He's going to be a dentist!
[weeps on her mother's shoulder]
Mrs. Whitman: Oh, and he seemed such a nice young man.
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User Reviews

 
Far from great
3 February 2008 | by MOscarbradleySee 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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