“It is the task of science to discover the truth. There is no shame attached to the recognition of error.”
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
Wow. He did all this, and apparently fought many uphill battles to do so. Of course, any dramatization of a person’s life will necessarily be that — a strategically crafted dramatization — but it seems there’s enough of the “truth” incorporated here that one can watch with reasonable assurance that we’re learning about a critically important figure in medical history.
Robinson’s performance is indeed top-notch; he ages 35 years throughout the film, and does so seamlessly (kudos to the make-up department as well).
Ruth Gordon, sadly, is given much less to do in her gratuitous role as the “supportive wife behind the scenes”, who gets to make statements like: “There must be something we can do. There must be!” Cinematographer James Wong Howe films the entire affair with atmosphere, and the screenplay — co-written by John Huston — effectively humanizes the illnesses Ehrlich and his colleagues worked so diligently to cure. It’s refreshing to see (uncredited) Wilfred Hari as Ehrlich’s research partner, Nobel Prize-nominated bacteriologist Dr. Sahachiro Hata, though he’s given an unfortunate line about how Dr. Ehrlich is the one doing “all the thinking” (!).
So it goes when one attempts to immortalize a single man.
Trivia: According to TCM’s review, director William Dieterle’s “talent let him get away with some bizarre habits, such as never starting a film unless his astrologer cleared it, and always wearing white gloves on the set.”
Redeeming Qualities and Moments: