It couldn’t have been an easy film to make, and the fact that it holds as much general interest as it does speaks volumes. But the producers couldn’t avoid some dull stretches of scientific discourse.
Expert casting and splendid production are the points in the film’s favor, primarily. Paul Muni in the title role is at his very top form.
Film starts out with Pasteur already somewhat established, skipping his early life and struggles. His wine and beer discoveries have already been accepted and he’s propagandizing for sterilization of doctors and doctors’ instruments in childbirth. Doesn’t get him very far because of general medical opposition and he turns to treatment of anthrax in sheep and cattle. Gets that over and is admitted into the French Academy, although still scoffed at by the majority of his confreres. Works on a cure for rabies and hydrophobia for the rest of the picture. His reward finally is general acclaim.
Josephine Hutchinson as Pasteur’s wife is splendid and believable. Anita Louise as his daughter and Donald Woods as her fiance are expected to handle the romance and almost do it. Fritz Leiber as Dr Charbonnet, Pasteur’s strongest enemy, turns in an outstanding performance.
1936: Best Actor (Paul Muni), Original Story & Screenplay.
Nomination: Best Picture