John Ford's adaptation of the Sinclair Lewis Nobel Prize-winning novel stars Ronald Colman as the idealistic Martin Arrowsmith. Although a brilliant medical student, Arrowsmith's chances of pursuing a research fellowship are sidetracked by his marriage to nurse Leora Tozer (Helen Hayes). The couple returns to Leora's small Minnesota hometown, where Arrowsmith establishes a medical practice while continuing to do research on his own. After a few years, he discovers the cure for a bovine disease, which lands him a job doing research with former mentor Dr. Max Gottlief (A.E. Anson) in New York. Scientist Gustavus Sondelius (Richard Bennett), a friend of the researchers', informs them that a plague is devouring the West Indies. Eager to test a new serum, Arrowsmith accompanies the scientist to the islands, reluctantly taking Leora along. Although the white population refuses to participate in the experiment, a black doctor persuades the native people to take the serum. In the course of his research, Arrowsmith meets Joyce Lanyon (Myrna Loy), the daughter of a plantation owner--and finds himself irresistibly drawn to her. Colman, Hayes, and Bennett contribute fine performances, and the supporting cast, particularly John Qualen and Beulah Bondi, are outstanding. Ford, famous for his sublime visual sense in handling epic material, displays a deft directorial touch in the quiet, intimate ARROWSMITH, creating a wrenching portrait of a man struggling to do right while shrouded in a mist of moral ambiguity.
Martin Arrowsmith journeys from curious boy to medical student, from intern to visionary physician in this John Ford film. After Martin meets his sweetheart, Leora, they travel to a small town in the Midwest where Martin becomes the local doctor. His discovery of a serum for diseased cattle leads him to the upper echelon of the medical establishment. The Arrowsmiths later attempt to cure the bubonic plague in the rat-infested West Indies. But when he leaves Leora on one isle, for her own safety, to treat the natives on another, Martin inadvertently puts his beloved in harm's way.
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The Sinclair Lewis novel "Arrowsmith," on which the film is based, won the Nobel Prize.
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