Arrowsmith - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Arrowsmith Reviews

Page 1 of 1
May 16, 2015
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 clichť 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.
April 1, 2015
Starring Ronald Colman, Helen Hayes and Myrna Loy. This film version of Sinclair Lewis' novel is by no means terrible. It boasts some strong performances in telling the story of Dr. Martin Arrowsmith (Colman). The good doctor forgoes private practice to seek a cure for the bubonic plague in the West Indies. Hayes is Colman's devoted wife, Loy the seductive temptress who distracts him from his duties. The film suffers from being overly ambitious and is weighed down by an unfocused screenplay. Directed by John Ford.
½ July 29, 2012
Enjoyed this one, and loved Ronald Colman. Good story although a bit scattered. Helen Hayes is sweet as the Dr's dedicated wife.
Super Reviewer
½ October 3, 2011
Ronald Colman is fine in this antique but the film itself is all over the place.
½ August 20, 2011
Despite Ronald Colman being one of my favorite actors, I didn't like this movie at all. It tried to be good; it just...wasn't. The plot had some potential, but it was poorly done. The emotion felt fake, the script was plodding, and the whole thing just felt very contrived. Disappointed.
July 26, 2011
Another mix bag, with critics loving the movie and Users hating it. I think it looks OK for a viewing.
Super Reviewer
September 3, 2010
A dull and melodramatic look at the life of a doctor.
August 19, 2010
I found this medical melodrama boring, but if that's what you like maybe you'll enjoy it. There are good actors, but my favourite, Myrna Loy, doesn't get much screen time. I wish this movie would have told the audience when it was taking place, it didn't seem like the thirties. I don't know, I was really confused, but mostly bored.
½ July 28, 2010
Arrowsmith is a biopic of the doctor who finally crushed the Plague once and for all, but not before nearly wiping out everything he has and loves.

Ronald Coleman plays Arrowsmith here, and he's fine as he always seems to be. He plays the doctor from his just-out-of-college years, small town life, to his promotion to a research giant. Coleman also gets help from Helen Hayes who plays a nurse in the hospital, who, in the span of oh, 5 minutes, becomes his wife. Soon after arriving in the big city in the huge research laboratory (which, according to the set design, is right behind Dr. Caligari's) and he discovers a cure for bubonic plague! But he needs human subjects to test this out on, so he and Hayes pack everything and go to the most infected part of the world they can that is suffering from the disease, where they meet up with the wildly overacting (). But the disease is overwhelming and‚?¶ well, the results are what concludes this. I am not really too sure about the ending as well. What made Arrowsmith act the way he did? The movie somewhat drags a bit in the end, when they wind up on the West Indies, and the whole black spiritual singing in ALL of the scenes does get grating after a while. All in all, this is an OK movie, but not the best of Coleman, Hayes or John Ford.
June 3, 2010
another winner from the master.
November 14, 2009
Directed by John Ford for Samuel Goldwyn and starring Rolman Colman and Helen Hayes, this movie is flawd with a confusing third act. However, worth seeing as it is a pre-Code Ford that has Colman having an affair with Myrna Loy and more importantly, an African-American playing a doctor, extremely rare for its time period.
October 21, 2008
Hela filmen känns disträ. Den innehåller några bra scener i början, när Arrowsmith är läkare på landet, men när han inleder sin forskarkarriär, ganska tidigt i historien, verkar hela filmteamet tappa intresset.
Super Reviewer
½ July 23, 2008
Colman is as charismatic as ever, but does have some choppy editing.
Super Reviewer
July 3, 2008
want to see this because it was nominated for best picture at the oscars
January 7, 2008
One might be tempted to call it quaint by our 21st-Century standards, and no doubt it's very difficult, perhaps almost impossible, to make a film about (medical) science that's neither boring nor preposterous. But this film manages to be convincing and complex, and very subtly disturbing, to science what Elmer Gantry is to religion. What better formula than a Sinclair Lewis novel made into a John Ford film? (Well, I guess a John Steinbeck novel made into a John Ford film, for one...)
Super Reviewer
August 12, 2007
I was glad to have caught this on Turner Classics a few weeks back. I have always thought that Ronald Colman was terribly underrated and overshadowed by Clark Gable who he resembled greatly. This is great depiction of how personal amibition and ethics often have great impacts on how personal lives are lived.
August 6, 2005
Page 1 of 1