The Story of Louis Pasteur


1h 25m 1936
The Story of Louis Pasteur

Brief Synopsis

True story of the French scientist's battle to establish modern medical methods.

Film Details

Also Known As
Death Fighter, Enemy of Man, The Fighter
Genre
Drama
Biography
Release Date
Feb 22, 1936
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
First National Productions Corp.
Distribution Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 25m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
10 reels

Synopsis

In 1860, chemist Louis Pasteur is scorned by most doctors because of his theory that germs cause disease. When a doctor is killed by the husband of one of his patients who died of puerperal fever, because the husband read Pasteur's pamphlet advocating the sterilization of instruments, Pasteur is ordered to stop publishing. Ten years later, there is an epidemic of anthrax in France which is decimating the livestock needed to pay war reparations to Prussia. Only one area has no problem with the disease. Dr. Radisse and his assistant, Dr. Jean Martel, investigate and learn that Pasteur has been inoculating the district's sheep for free. Although Martel is curious and stays behind to study with Pasteur, Radisse is skeptical. He believes that for some reason the soil in the area is free of the disease, and to prove his theory he imports sheep. Pasteur tries to stop him, and another doctor proposes that Pasteur inoculate half the sheep to see if his vaccine is really effective. At the end of the test, all the inoculated sheep are alive while the uninoculated ones are dead. After watching a villager die from rabies, Pasteur begins work on a cure for the disease. He has no luck until Dr. Charbonnet injects himself with rabies virus to prove it cannot cause the illness. When he does not become ill, Pasteur realizes that the virus loses its virulence over time and conceives the idea of injecting increasing amounts of rabies virus in order to build resistance. He reluctantly experiments on a small boy bitten by a rabid dog. In the meantime, Pasteur's daughter Annette, who has married Martel, is about to give birth. The only doctor available to attend her is Pasteur's old enemy Charbonnet. Pasteur insists that he use sterile means to deliver the child, and Charbonnet agrees if Pasteur will sign a letter testifying that his studies are worthless in light of the fact that Charbonnet did not contract rabies. To save his daughter, Pasteur agrees. When the bitten child recovers, however, Charbonnet is humbled and admits Pasteur's genius. After suffering a stroke, Pasteur is at long last honored for his achievements on his seventieth birthday.

Photo Collections

The Story of Louis Pasteur - Movie Poster
Here is an original release movie poster from The Story of Louis Pasteur (1936), starring Paul Muni. This is an Insert poster, measuring 14 x 36 inches.

Videos

Movie Clip

Story Of Louis Pasteur, The (1936) - A Victim Of Your Bigotry Paris, 1860, summoned to the court of emperor Napoleon III (Walter Kingsford) in recognition for earlier feats, chemist Paul Muni (title character) rants about germs, irritating physician Charbonnet (Fritz Leiber) and gets blamed (by Porter Hall) for a murder committed by a civilian who supported his theories, then is consoled by Martel (Donald Woods), in The Story Of Louis Pasteur, 1936.
Story Of Louis Pasteur, The (1936) - Predict The Hour Of My Death Divided over whether to support the title character (Paul Muni), their colleague, in his so-far unsuccessful quest for a rabies vaccine, the French medical academy leadership, led by fictional Charbonnet (Fritz Leiber), visits his lab, prompting a dramatic exhibition, in Warner Bros. The Story Of Louis Pasteur, 1936, with Akim Tamiroff as Zaranoff. and Raymond Brown as Radisse, with the pipe.
Story Of Louis Pasteur, The (1936) - Our Criminal Disregard For Germs The last of three vignettes introducing the title character (Paul Muni) finds rulers Napoleon III and Eugenie (Walter Kingsford, Iphigenie Castiglioni) more open-minded than Charbonnet (Fritz Leiber), as the wife (Josephine Hutchinson) and assistant (Henry O'Neill) keep faith, in The Story Of Louis Pasteur, 1936.
Story Of Louis Pasteur, The (1936) - Savior Of The Sheep Ca. 1870, officials Radisse (Raymond Brown) and Martel (Donald Woods) visit Arbois, site of the current Pasteur museum, where Paul Muni (title character), with daughter (Anita Louise) and aide Roux (Henry O'Neill), is treating anthrax, in Warner Bros.' The Story Of Louis Pasteur, 1936.

Trailer

Hosted Intro

Film Details

Also Known As
Death Fighter, Enemy of Man, The Fighter
Genre
Drama
Biography
Release Date
Feb 22, 1936
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
First National Productions Corp.
Distribution Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 25m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
10 reels

Award Wins

Best Actor

1936
Paul Muni

Best Screenplay

1936

Award Nominations

Best Picture

1936

Articles

The Story of Louis Pasteur


"There should be no sheep jumping over stiles because the audience will start counting them and go to sleep," read a memo from the front office of Warner Bros. studio during the pre-production period of The Story of Louis Pasteur (1936), starring Paul Muni as the 19th-century French chemist who invented pasteurization and created the first vaccine for rabies. The reference to sheep was because another of Pasteur's vaccines was to stop an epidemic of anthrax that was killing herds throughout France - except in Arbois, where Pasteur was putting his vaccine to work. In 1860 Pasteur turned to the dangers of childbirth, as 20,000 women were dying annually in Paris alone. His theory, that a large part of the problem was the failure of doctors to wash their hands and sterilize their instruments, was met with scorn from the French scientific community. It took the Russians to recognize Pasteur's genius before he was honored in his own country.

The notorious memo from an unnamed Warners executive also ordered that the film should show no experimentation on dogs because the SPCA would object; that no childbirth fever be shown because it might frighten women and cause them to stop having babies; and that no names of Russian scientists be mentioned because publisher William Randolph Hearst might object and withdraw the services of his mistress, actress Marion Davies, from the studio. The memo also suggested that the plot of Pasteur focus on a long-suffering love affair between the chemist and a young woman from his university days that he is unable to win until he is acclaimed and famous. "At the age of 80," was the wry comment of scenarist Sheridan Gibney, who, with his writing associates, wisely ignored the studio's suggestions.

Lack of faith among the Warners bigwigs meant that The Story of Louis Pasteur was made on a remarkably low budget - $330,000, the bare minimum at the time for an "A" picture. No new sets could be built; previously used ones were merely redecorated. The Academy of Science indoor amphitheater, for example, had been a nightclub set for a Busby Berkeley production number. Despite these limitations, the artistry of Muni and his colleagues shows through. In addition to an Oscar® to Muni as Best Actor, the film won the categories of Best Original Story and Best Screenplay, and was nominated as Best Picture. Although he was not nominated, another outstanding contributor was cinematographer Tony Gaudio, who lighted and photographed the meager sets with such mastery that a London film critic would describe him as "an artist who has achieved shots worthy of being hung in the world's great galleries."

Director: William Dieterle
Producer: Henry Blanke
Screenplay: Pierre Collings, Sheridan Gibney, Edward Chodorov (uncredited), from story by Collings and Gibney
Art Direction: Robert M. Haas
Cinematography: Tony Gaudio
Costume Design: Milo Anderson
Editing: Ralph Dawson
Original Music: Bernhard Kaun, Heinz Roemheld (both uncredited)
Cast: Paul Muni (Louis Pasteur), Josephine Hutchinson (Marie Pasteur), Anita Louise (Annette Pasteur), Donald Woods (Dr. Jean Martel), Fritz Leiber (Dr. Charbonnet), Henry O'Neill (Dr. Emile Roux), Akim Tamiroff (Dr. Zaranoff), Dickie Moore (Joseph Meister).
BW-86m. Closed captioning.

by Roger Fristoe
The Story Of Louis Pasteur

The Story of Louis Pasteur

"There should be no sheep jumping over stiles because the audience will start counting them and go to sleep," read a memo from the front office of Warner Bros. studio during the pre-production period of The Story of Louis Pasteur (1936), starring Paul Muni as the 19th-century French chemist who invented pasteurization and created the first vaccine for rabies. The reference to sheep was because another of Pasteur's vaccines was to stop an epidemic of anthrax that was killing herds throughout France - except in Arbois, where Pasteur was putting his vaccine to work. In 1860 Pasteur turned to the dangers of childbirth, as 20,000 women were dying annually in Paris alone. His theory, that a large part of the problem was the failure of doctors to wash their hands and sterilize their instruments, was met with scorn from the French scientific community. It took the Russians to recognize Pasteur's genius before he was honored in his own country. The notorious memo from an unnamed Warners executive also ordered that the film should show no experimentation on dogs because the SPCA would object; that no childbirth fever be shown because it might frighten women and cause them to stop having babies; and that no names of Russian scientists be mentioned because publisher William Randolph Hearst might object and withdraw the services of his mistress, actress Marion Davies, from the studio. The memo also suggested that the plot of Pasteur focus on a long-suffering love affair between the chemist and a young woman from his university days that he is unable to win until he is acclaimed and famous. "At the age of 80," was the wry comment of scenarist Sheridan Gibney, who, with his writing associates, wisely ignored the studio's suggestions. Lack of faith among the Warners bigwigs meant that The Story of Louis Pasteur was made on a remarkably low budget - $330,000, the bare minimum at the time for an "A" picture. No new sets could be built; previously used ones were merely redecorated. The Academy of Science indoor amphitheater, for example, had been a nightclub set for a Busby Berkeley production number. Despite these limitations, the artistry of Muni and his colleagues shows through. In addition to an Oscar® to Muni as Best Actor, the film won the categories of Best Original Story and Best Screenplay, and was nominated as Best Picture. Although he was not nominated, another outstanding contributor was cinematographer Tony Gaudio, who lighted and photographed the meager sets with such mastery that a London film critic would describe him as "an artist who has achieved shots worthy of being hung in the world's great galleries." Director: William Dieterle Producer: Henry Blanke Screenplay: Pierre Collings, Sheridan Gibney, Edward Chodorov (uncredited), from story by Collings and Gibney Art Direction: Robert M. Haas Cinematography: Tony Gaudio Costume Design: Milo Anderson Editing: Ralph Dawson Original Music: Bernhard Kaun, Heinz Roemheld (both uncredited) Cast: Paul Muni (Louis Pasteur), Josephine Hutchinson (Marie Pasteur), Anita Louise (Annette Pasteur), Donald Woods (Dr. Jean Martel), Fritz Leiber (Dr. Charbonnet), Henry O'Neill (Dr. Emile Roux), Akim Tamiroff (Dr. Zaranoff), Dickie Moore (Joseph Meister). BW-86m. Closed captioning. by Roger Fristoe

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

At various times prior to release the film was entitled Enemy of Man, The Fighter, and Death Fighter. Paul Muni won the Oscar for Best Actor for his performance as Pasteur. Writers Sheridan Gibney and Pierre Collings also won Oscars for Best Original Story and Best Screenplay. The film was nominated for Best Picture and was on the New York Times list of the best films of 1936, and the Film Daily list of ten best films. The National Board of Review named it the best picture of 1936 and it was one of the top moneymaking films of the year.
       A news item in Daily Variety notes that over 100 notes were received from anti-vivesectionists angered by a film honoring Pasteur, claiming that his experiments were cruel to animals. Modern sources note that Muni was also awarded the Volpi Cup by the International Cinema Exposition Committee in Venice, Italy. Muni and Leiber repeated their roles for a radio adaptation which was broadcast on the Lux Radio Theatre over CBS on November 23, 1936. In his autobiography, producer Hal Wallis notes the extensive research performed by the studio. Files at the Mayo Clinic trophy room and the Bausch-Lomb Corporation Library were studied. The Breen office insisted that dead or dying sheep must not be shown on screen. Modern sources note that Gibney worked almost alone on the screenplay as co-author Collings was too seriously ill to write; Wallis did not like the material and asked to have Gibney replaced by Laird Doyle, but at Muni's insistence Gibney was retained, and to punish Muni, the film was budgeted at under $400,000 and was filmed partially on converted musical film sets-in one case a Busby Berkeley set became the palace of Napoleon III-and the laboratory set from The Mystery of the Wax Museum. Modern sources also note that Warner Bros. was not convinced that the film would attract an audience and initially sold it to exhibitors for a smaller than usual percentage of the gross. The film's success convinced Wallis to proceed with another medical biography, he notes in his autobiography, and he and Robert Lord soon began preparations for a film on Florence Nightingale ( for The White Angel). Modern sources add the following credits: Makeup Clay Campbell.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1936

Released in United States 1936