Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
USA, 1936. Warner Bros.. Story and Screenplay by Sheridan Gibney, Pierre Collings. Cinematography by Tony Gaudio. Produced by Hal B. Wallis, Jack L. Warner. Music by Heinz Roemheld. Production Design by Robert M. Haas. Costume Design by Milo Anderson. Film Editing by Ralph Dawson.
Immensely entertaining, though only erratically factual biopic of the man who introduced us to the world of germs. Paul Muni won an Oscar for his full-throttle performance as the French scientist whose theories of sterilization of obstetric instruments makes him the laughing stock of the medical community, not to mention gaining him the displeasure of the French emperor. It is not until after curing rabies, anthrax and hydrophobia (what does a guy have to do to get a little respect around here?) that the world is awakened to his theories and realizes he’s been right all along. The film gracefully avoids soap opera potholes and instead jams the story full of science and knowledge in the most entertaining fashion. Muni’s performance is often a bit too studied and carefully plotted, but William Dieterle’s smooth and energetic direction overcomes all the bumps.
Academy Awards: Best Actor (Paul Muni); Best Original Story; Best Screenplay
Nominations: Best Picture
Venice Film Festival Award: Best Actor (Paul Muni)