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Story of Louis Pasteur
     

The Story of Louis Pasteur

Director: William Dieterle

Cast: Paul Muni, Josephine Hutchinson, Akim Tamiroff

 
"Every time Paul Muni parts his beard and looks through a microscope, we lose a million dollars." Producer Jack Warner's lament concerning Muni's historical dramas is cute enough, but hardly backed up by facts; the economically produced The Story of Louis Pasteur proved to be a surprise hit for the Brothers Warner. The Sheridan Gibney-Pierre Collings screenplay

Overview

"Every time Paul Muni parts his beard and looks through a microscope, we lose a million dollars." Producer Jack Warner's lament concerning Muni's historical dramas is cute enough, but hardly backed up by facts; the economically produced The Story of Louis Pasteur proved to be a surprise hit for the Brothers Warner. The Sheridan Gibney-Pierre Collings screenplay concentrates on Pasteur's tireless efforts to find a cure for anthrax and hydrophobia. The famed French scientist is continually challenged and thwarted by his principal rival, hidebound bacteriologist Dr. Charbonnet (Fritz Leiber). The film's climax, involving a desperate Pasteur, the immovable Charbonnet, Pasteur's ailing daughter (Anita Louise), and a hydrophobia-infected youngster (Dickie Moore), is straight out of the Curfew Shall Not Ring Tonight school of melodrama. Within the film's context, however, this contrivance works magnificently. Virtually thrown away by Warners upon its first release, The Story of Louis Pasteur was finally awarded class-A treatment when the picture proved to be favorite with audiences and critics alike; Paul Muni's Academy Award win was the mere icing on the cake. The film's success led to Warners' decision to go ahead with 1937's The Life of Emile Zola, also starring Muni. This time, the studio copped its first Best Picture Oscar.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
Although there's a bit of fiction in The Story of Louis Pasteur, on the whole this is one of the more factually based of Hollywood's legendary biopics. Some incidents have been altered, others invented, and of course a great deal of telescoping of time has been employed, but Pasteur is still a valuable history lesson. Of much more importance, it's a thoroughly engaging dramatic experience, with a solid script that is filled with excitement, power, and suspense. True, some of the moments are a bit contrived, but one is more than willing to buy them for the payoff they bring. One of the more interesting aspects of the screenplay is that it doesn't spend much time bothering with Pasteur's early days. By the time we meet him, he has already created the process of pasteurization (which, ironically, he is probably most famous for among members of modern audiences), and the film concerns itself with his campaign for proper sterilization of medical equipment and for cures for anthrax and rabies. It sounds dry, but it's presented in a fascinating and involving manner by director William Dieterle, who also keeps things going at a rapid clip and doesn't let the film ever get bogged down. Pasteur's biggest asset, however, is its Academy Award-winning performance by the magnificent Paul Muni. It's a wonderful achievement, a flashy yet nuanced turn that brings life and vitality to the film while finding plenty of time for quiet, reflective moments. Muni finds a great foil in Fritz Leiber's perfectly played antagonist and gets beautiful support from Josephine Hutchinson. Pasteur makes history come alive, even for those for whom the subject is traditionally a bore.

Product Details

Release Date:
03/07/2000
UPC:
0012569533936
Original Release:
1936
Rating:
NR
Source:
Warner Home Video

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Paul Muni Louis Pasteur
Josephine Hutchinson Madame Pasteur
Akim Tamiroff Dr. Zaranoff
Anita Louise Annette Pasteur
Donald Woods Jean Martel
Fritz Leiber Dr. Charbonnet
Henry O'Neill Roux
Porter Hall Dr. Rosignol
Ray Brown Dr. Radisse
Halliwell Hobbes Dr. Joseph Lister
Frank Reicher Dr. Pheiffer
Dickie Moore Phillip Meister
Walter Kingsford Napoleon III
Herbert Corthell President Louis-Adolphe Thiers
Iphigenie Castiglioni Empress Eugenie
Richard Alexander Burly Farmer
George Andre Beranger Assistant
William Burress Doctor
Wheaton Chambers Alsatian
Mabel Colcord A Lady
William "Wild Bill" Elliott Actor
Alphonse Ethier Finance Minister
Brenda Fowler Midwife
Herbert Heywood Boncourt
Otto Hoffman Farmer
Wilfred Lucas Actor
Eric Mayne Lord Chamberlain
Frank Mayo President Sadi Carnot
Leonard Mudie Coachman
Tempe Piggott Woman
Jack Santoro Actor
Ferdinand Schumann-Heink Reporter
C. Montague Shaw British Reporter
Leonid Snegoff Russian Ambassador
Robert Strange Magistrate
Edward Van Sloan Chairman
Fred Walton Government Inspector
Niles Welch Courier
Lotta Williams Cecile
Baron Hesse Fat Doctor

Technical Credits
William Dieterle Director
Milo Anderson Costumes/Costume Designer
Henry Blanke Producer
Pierre Collings Screenwriter
Ralph Dawson Editor
Leo F. Forbstein Musical Direction/Supervision
Tony Gaudio Cinematographer
Sheridan Gibney Screenwriter
Robert M. Haas Art Director

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