One thing the pre-code Hollywood pictures do very well is they allowed significant brevity in film. Arrowsmith is adapted from the famous Sinclair Lewis novel of the same name. John Ford adapts a 440+ page, well-known, and widely-read novel into a best picture nominee in under 110 minutes. Impressive. The release year of 1931 represents the transition period between sound film novelty acts like The Jazz Singer (1927, Alan Crosland) to serious, well-made, award season contenders like Arrowsmith. Of course, Arrowsmith is not the first great sound film to be nominated for awards. In fact, its difficult to even call it great at all; its watchable, not memorable. Yet here we have a silent film transition star in Ronald Colman transitioning into a talkative character in Arrowsmith, a director in John Ford transitioning from B-westerns and melodramas, and a studio in MGM under Louis B. Mayer who wants to transition MGM from leading studio status to untouchable. Unfortunately for Colman, Ford, and Mayer, their attempts to push Arrowsmith into an unforgettable film failed. Melodramatic, sentimental, and cliché seem like harsh labels, but alas, they fit this film. Also, the natives of the Caribbean infected with Bubonic Plague are shown in unflattering portrayals, as are the Swedish characters with their accents amped to the point of unintelligible babel. In the end, Colman never really broke into A-list star status, the film never won any awards, although a few bright spots emerge: (1) Mayer and Ford went on to achieve legendary greatness; (2) the female stars in Helen Hayes and Myrna Loy became female icons and A-list stars in their own right; and (3) Arrowsmith introduced a market for medical-related drama film. Also, notice the widespread drinking in this film; Prohibition is still in effect in 1931 and its interesting to see some of that pre-code naughtiness come through.