|The Story of Louis Pasteur|
|Directed by||William Dieterle|
|Produced by||Henry Blanke|
|Written by|| Pierre Collings |
|Starring|| Paul Muni |
|Music by||Leo F. Forbstein|
|Edited by||Ralph Dawson|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
The Story of Louis Pasteur is a 1936 American black-and-white biographical film from Warner Bros., produced by Henry Blanke, directed by William Dieterle, that stars Josephine Hutchinson, Anita Louise and Donald Woods, and Paul Muni as the renowned scientist who developed major advances in microbiology, which revolutionized agriculture and medicine. The film's screenplay—which tells a highly fictionalized version of Pasteur’s life—was written by Pierre Collings and Sheridan Gibney, and Edward Chodorov (uncredited).
Muni won an Academy Award for Best Actor, while Collings and Gibney won for Best Screenplay and Best Story. The film was nominated for Best Picture.
Muni also won the Volpi Cup for Best Actor from the Venice Film Festival in 1936.
In Paris in 1860, a distraught man murders his wife's doctor. Chemist Louis Pasteur (Paul Muni) has been publicizing a theory that diseases are caused by microbes, which doctors should avoid spreading by washing their hands and sterilizing their instruments in boiling water. The doctor did not do this and the wife died of puerperal fever after giving birth.
Pasteur is dismissed by France's medical academy—particularly his most vocal critic, Dr. Charbonnet (Fritz Leiber Sr.)—as a crank whose recommendations are tantamount to witchcraft. Pasteur frankly calls attention to the risks of Charbonnet's non-sterile methods and correctly predicts that a member of Napoleon III's royal family who Charbonnet is attending will die of puerperal fever, but Pasteur is the one who is considered dangerous, because his ideas have led to murder. When the Emperor comes down against him, Pasteur leaves Paris and moves to the small town of Arbois.
In the 1870s, when the new French government tries to restore the economy after the Franco-Prussian War, they learn that many sheep are dying of anthrax, except around Arbois. They send representatives who learn that, working with a small group of loyal researchers, Pasteur has developed a vaccine against the disease and put it into use locally.
The medical academy still opposes him and says Arbois must simply be free of anthrax, so the government buys land there and invites sheep farmers to use it. Pasteur objects strongly, saying the soil is full of anthrax spores, and eventually an experiment is proposed. He will vaccinate 25 of the newly arrived sheep; then they and a control group of 25 others will be injected with blood from a sheep with anthrax.
Joseph Lister (Halliwell Hobbes), the pioneer of antiseptic surgery in England, is interested enough to attend, and witnesses Pasteur's total success as all the vaccinated sheep remain healthy after the other 25 have died. At this point Jean Martel (Donald Woods), a young doctor who was formerly Charbonnet's assistant but now is a follower of Pasteur, becomes engaged to Pasteur's daughter Annette (Anita Louise).
The celebrations are short-lived, as a rabid dog runs through the town and a man is bitten. As a woman attempts to cure him by witchcraft, Pasteur laments that doctors would have no more chance of success. Moving back to Paris, he makes rabies his next project. He is able to spread the disease from one animal to another by injection, but finds himself unable to detect any microbe being transferred (viruses had not yet been discovered), and the method he used to create the anthrax vaccine does not work.
Charbonnet visits the lab to gloat over Pasteur's failure. He is so certain Pasteur is a quack that he injects himself with rabies—and is triumphant, as he does not get the disease. Pasteur is puzzled, until his wife Marie (Josephine Hutchinson) suggests that the sample may have gotten weak with age. This sets him on the right path at last, giving dogs a series of progressively stronger injections.
But before his experiments reach a conclusion, a frantic mother begs him to try his untested treatment on her son (Dickie Moore), who has been bitten by a rabid dog. Risking imprisonment or even execution, Pasteur decides he must try to save the child. During the attempt, a Dr. Zaranoff (Akim Tamiroff) arrives from Russia with a group of peasants who have been exposed to rabies, and who have volunteered to receive Pasteur's treatment.
Annette goes into labor with Martel's child. The doctor who was to attend her is unavailable, and Martel is urgently needed for the boy. Pasteur searches frantically for another doctor, but the only one he can find is none other than Charbonnet. He begs Charbonnet to wash his hands and sterilize his instruments just this once; Charbonnet finally agrees on condition that if Charbonnet lives another month, Pasteur will retract and denounce all his work on rabies. Both men are honorable enough to respect the agreement. The birth goes well, but Pasteur collapses with a mild stroke.
Days later, word comes that Pasteur has permission to treat those of the Russians who are still alive. He attends them in hospital for the first injections using a wheelchair, and later using a cane. The experiment is a success, and now even Charbonnet concedes that he was wrong, tearing up Pasteur's retraction and asking for the shots for himself.
Afterwards, Pasteur hears that he is to be denounced by Lister at the medical academy. He angrily attends, but it was just a way to surprise him. He is praised by Lister, presented with a Russian medal by Zaranoff, and honored by the very doctors who once scoffed at his discoveries.
Writing for The Spectator in 1936, Graham Greene gave the film a good review, describing it as "an honest, interesting and well-made picture". Characterizing Paul Muni as "the greatest living actor" and as a "Protean figure", Greene asserts that Muni's depiction of Pasteur is accomplished "with his whole body [to establish] not only the bourgeois, the elderly, the stubborn and bitter and noble little chemist, but his nationality and even his period."
The film and lead character were nominated for two of the American Film Institute's lists:
Paul Muni reprised his role in two radio play versions of the film: the November 23, 1936 episode of Lux Radio Theater and the April 13, 1946 episode of Academy Award Theater .
Louis Pasteur was a French biologist, microbiologist, and chemist renowned for his discoveries of the principles of vaccination, microbial fermentation, and pasteurization. He is remembered for his remarkable breakthroughs in the causes and prevention of diseases, and his discoveries have saved many lives ever since. He reduced mortality from puerperal fever and created the first vaccines for rabies and anthrax.
Paul Muni was an Austro-Hungarian-born American stage and film actor who grew up in Chicago. Muni was a five-time Academy Award nominee, with one win. He started his acting career in the Yiddish theater. During the 1930s, he was considered one of the most prestigious actors at the Warner Bros. studio, and was given the rare privilege of choosing which parts he wanted.
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a 1931 American pre-Code horror film, directed by Rouben Mamoulian and starring Fredric March, who plays a possessed doctor who tests his new formula that can unleash people's inner demons. The film is an adaptation of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, the 1886 Robert Louis Stevenson tale of a man who takes a potion which turns him from a mild-mannered man of science into a homicidal maniac.
Arbois is a commune in the Jura department in the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region in eastern France. The Cuisance River passes through the town, which has some pretty streets lined with ancient houses. The town centres on an arcaded central square where one can sample the local wines.
Pierre Paul Émile Roux FRS was a French physician, bacteriologist and immunologist. Roux was one of the closest collaborators of Louis Pasteur (1822–1895), a co-founder of the Pasteur Institute, and responsible for the institute's production of the anti-diphtheria serum, the first effective therapy for this disease.
Joseph Meister was the first person to be inoculated against rabies by Louis Pasteur, and the first person to be successfully treated for the infection.
William Dieterle was a German-born actor and film director who emigrated to the United States in 1930 to leave a worsening political situation. He worked in Hollywood primarily as a director for much of his career, becoming a United States citizen in 1937. He moved back to Germany in the late 1950s.
Vaccines against the livestock and human disease anthrax—caused by the bacterium Bacillus anthracis—have had a prominent place in the history of medicine, from Pasteur’s pioneering 19th-century work with cattle to the controversial late 20th century use of a modern product to protect American troops against the use of anthrax in biological warfare. Human anthrax vaccines were developed by the Soviet Union in the late 1930s and in the US and UK in the 1950s. The current vaccine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was formulated in the 1960s.
Edward Van Sloan was an American film character actor best remembered for his roles in the Universal Studios horror films such as Dracula (1931), Frankenstein (1931), and The Mummy (1932). He died in 1964 in California, at age 81.
Frank Reicher was a German-born American actor, director and producer. He is best known for playing Captain Englehorn in the 1933 film King Kong.
Josephine Hutchinson was an American actress. She acted in several theater plays and films.
Fritz Reuter Leiber Sr. was an American actor. A Shakespearean actor on stage, he also had a successful career in film. He was the father of science fiction and fantasy writer Fritz Leiber Jr., who was also an actor for a time.
Miles Mander, was an English character actor of the early Hollywood cinema, also a film director and producer, and a playwright and novelist. He was sometimes credited as Luther Miles.
Dr. Ehrlich's Magic Bullet is a 1940 American biographical film directed by William Dieterle and starring Edward G. Robinson, based on the true story of the German doctor and scientist Dr. Paul Ehrlich. The film was released by Warner Bros., with some controversy considering the subject of syphilis in a major studio release. It was nominated for an Oscar for its original screenplay, but lost to The Great McGinty.
Louis Thuillier was a French biologist from Amiens. He studied biology and physics in Amiens and Paris, and in 1880 went to work as an assistant in the laboratory of Louis Pasteur.
Donald Woods was a Canadian-American film and television actor whose career in Hollywood spanned six decades.
Herbert Halliwell Hobbes was an English actor.
Dr. Socrates is a 1935 crime film starring Paul Muni as a doctor forced to treat a wounded gangster, played by Barton MacLane.
The Crime of Doctor Hallet is a 1938 American drama film, directed by S. Sylvan Simon and starring Ralph Bellamy, Josephine Hutchinson, William Gargan, Barbara Read, John 'Dusty' King, and Charles Stevens. The film was released by Universal Pictures on March 11, 1938.
The Country Doctor is a 1936 American drama film directed by Henry King and written by Sonya Levien. The film stars Jean Hersholt, June Lang, Slim Summerville, Michael Whalen, Dorothy Peterson and Robert Barrat. The Country Doctor was released on March 12, 1936, by 20th Century Fox.