Review: ‘Dr. Ehrlich’s Magic Bullet’

Here is a splendid production, in which much care and attention to detail has gone into the making. Historical biography [from an idea by Norman Burnside] is based on the life of Dr Paul Ehrlich, famed bacteriologist, whose most noteworthy contribution to medical science was the search for, and eventual discovery of, 606, which proved to be the positive cure for syphilis.

Here is a splendid production, in which much care and attention to detail has gone into the making. Historical biography [from an idea by Norman Burnside] is based on the life of Dr Paul Ehrlich, famed bacteriologist, whose most noteworthy contribution to medical science was the search for, and eventual discovery of, 606, which proved to be the positive cure for syphilis.

In tracing the scientist’s accomplishments, story traces through a span of about 35 years. Edward G. Robinson makes the gradual transition down the years in great style.

Ehrlich is introduced as a young doctor in the Kaiser Wilhelm hospital, Berlin, where he is attempting to find a dye with an affinity for the tubercular germ, to make the latter distinguishable under a microscope. He is finally dismissed, and works at home to discover the necessary dye. Contracting the disease, he goes to Egypt for a year to recuperate, and then discovers the theory of building up immunity to a poison.

Returning to Berlin, he plunges into research on a treatment of syphilis, but pauses long enough to cooperate with Dr Emil Von Behring (Otto Kruger) in concocting a serum for diptheria. Years pass before Ehrlich discovers 606, when the Medical Society asks that he give it to the public immediately.

Ruth Gordon is a most sympathetic and understanding wife of the scientist absorbed in his work; Kruger is excellent as Ehrlich’s close friend and colleague; Donald Crisp is the health minister. Ehrlich is a most worthy successor in every respect to Louis Pasteur, which Warners produced so intelligently a few years earlier.

Dr. Ehrlich's Magic Bullet

Production

Warner. Director William Dieterle; Producer Hal B. Wallis (exec.); Screenplay John Huston, Heinz Herald, Norman Burnside; Camera James Wong Howe; Editor Warren Low; Music Max Steiner; Art Director Carl Jules Weyl

Crew

(B&W) Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1940. Running time: 103 MIN.

With

Edward G. Robinson Ruth Gordon Otto Kruger Donald Crisp Maria Ouspenskaya Montagu Love
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