Disputed Passage

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Disputed Passage
"Disputed Passage" (1939).jpg
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Directed by Frank Borzage
Screenplay by Anthony Veiller
Sheridan Gibney
Based onDisputed Passage
by Lloyd C. Douglas
Produced by Harlan Thompson
Starring Dorothy Lamour
Akim Tamiroff
John Howard
Judith Barrett
William Collier, Sr.
Cinematography William C. Mellor
Edited by James Smith
Music by Friedrich Hollaender
(as Friedrich Hollander)
John Leipold
Color process Black and white
Paramount Pictures
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date
  • October 27, 1939 (1939-10-27)
Running time
91 minutes
CountryUnited States

Disputed Passage is a 1939 American drama war film directed by Frank Borzage and starring Dorothy Lamour, Akim Tamiroff, John Howard, Judith Barrett and William Collier, Sr.. [1] Set in war-torn China, the film was described by The New York Times as a "lavish soap opera". The film was based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Lloyd C. Douglas, and was produced by Paramount Pictures. [2]



Young medical student John Wesley Beaven (John Howard) is torn between the detached, cold pragmatism of Dr. Forster (Akim Tamiroff) and the humanistic attitudes of kindly Dr. Cunningham (William Collier Sr.). Matters are brought to a head when Beaven must choose between his career and impending marriage to fellow student Audrey Hilton (Dorothy Lamour). Dr. Forster convinces Audrey to return to her native China and let Beaven pursue his studies undistracted. She takes Forster's advice, but Beaven follows her. Once in the Orient he is injured in a bomb blast, and in a makeshift hospital, Dr. Forster is called on to perform a risky operation to save his life.


Critical reception

The New York Times concluded,"if you have gathered from the foregoing that Disputed Passage smacks of synthetic drama and not too subtle moralizing, you have gleaned aright. What you might not have gathered is that the film, particularly in its early phases, has been forcefully written and rather well played. While there no longer is much news in the conflict between the sympathetic, sentimental physician and the cold scientist who caustically challenges his medical class to find a human soul in their dissections, the topic remains a fertile and provocative one." [2] and Allmovie wrote, "kudos again to director Frank Borzage for bringing warmth and credibility to the most sloppily sentimental of storylines." [3]

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  1. "Disputed Passage (1939)". BFI. Archived from the original on 2012-07-13.
  2. 1 2 https://www.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9C03E2DF153EE23ABC4E51DFB6678382629EDE
  3. Hal Erickson. "Disputed Passage (1939) - Frank Borzage - Synopsis, Characteristics, Moods, Themes and Related - AllMovie". AllMovie.