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Nostradamus (1938)

Approved | | Short, History | 24 September 1938 (USA)
This initial entry in a series of several MGM shorts on Nostradamus starts with a short biography of the seer into the future. His early predictions concern European monarchs. His ... See full summary »


David Miller


Carl Dudley


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Complete credited cast:
Carey Wilson ... Narrator (voice)


This initial entry in a series of several MGM shorts on Nostradamus starts with a short biography of the seer into the future. His early predictions concern European monarchs. His prophecies also foretell the American Revolution in 1776 and later the French Revolution of 1789. There is even a prediction about an event in Paris, France in 1999! Written by David Glagovsky <dglagovsky@prodigy.net>

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The Seer That Everyone Remembers
29 September 2006 | by theowinthropSee all my reviews

The HISTORICAL MYSTERIES Series thrived on what are actually "urban legends", like the fate of the Dauphin or of Marshal Ney or of John Wilkes Booth or of Napoleon Bonaparte. Carey Wilson, who was the narrator, apparently had a great deal to do with the material used in the series, figuring that the movie audiences enjoyed a bit of arcane romance and twisty history. So it is to him that we are probably indebted to the the successful popularization of the name and career of Michel Nostradamus, as the premier prognosticator of events in history.

Born in France in 1503, his ancestry was Jewish (although he was a Catholic), and he became a physician. But he became famous for a series of poetic writings called "quatrains" which are difficult to translate into English, and which predict (or seem to predict) events of his own century and country's history, and possibly future centuries. His most famous prediction is one that barely anyone would care about today, unless they are into 16th Century French history: he seemed to predict the death of King Henri II of France (in 1559) in a tournament (a lance belonging to the King's opponent shattered when hitting the king's helmet, and part pierced the King's eye entering the brain and killing him). Nostradamus died in 1566. Over the centuries many believe that Nostradamus predicted other events, such as the coming of the French Revolution, the death of King Louis XVI on the guillotine, and the Reign of Terror, and the rise of Napoleon.

Wilson pushed this view down the eager throats of depression America - starving for entertainment and something unusual to take their minds off their problems. In the end Wilson worked on five of these shorts, and kept pushing the envelope. From predicting the history of his own time, and of his nation's history into the early 19th Century, Wilson had Nostradamus predict the rise of Germany, the First World War, the rise of Communist Russia, of Nazism and Fascism, and the rise of Adolf Hitler. In fact one of the series of shorts on Nostradamus dealt with his predictions regarding World War II.

As mentioned before, Wilson helped make Michel Nostradamus the greatest name in paranormal predicting in known history. If you don't believe this, for the number of times that you have heard of Nostradamus (even if you haven't tackled his quatrains) how many of you readers have heard of the English popular Seer, Mother Shipton, who lived (supposedly) in the Tudor period? Maybe the American Edgar Cayce has as big an audience recognition, but Cayce's written works were only published in the last century - Nostradamus goes back to the time of Michaelangelo, Holbein the Younger, and Rabelais.

Unfortunately, Wilson spread much that was false about Nostradamus as well as much that was provably true (like that bit about King Henri II). The predictions about the course of World War II were not true - the Allied command learned that the Nazi leadership was quite superstitious, and decided that a bit of plausible sounding disinformation might help defeat the Germans. So they spread the story that Nostradamus predicted certain grave defeats of the Germans. Now we know these were phony, but the question will remain if Wilson knew they were phony as well but kept spreading them to help the Allied cause.

There has been better scholarship on Nostradamus since the 1930s, and better places to begin to study his intriguing career than in these shorts. But for their time and place they doubtlessly more than served their entertainment value.

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Release Date:

24 September 1938 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

An Historical Mystery #10: Nostradamus See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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