The Great Moment (1921) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Great Moment (1921)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

Based on the true story of W. T. G. Morton, this biographical drama follows the career of young Boston dentist Morton (Joel McCrea) as he begins experimenting with the anesthetic effects of ether. His discovery eventually won him both wealth and fame.


Joel McCrea
as William Thomas Green Morton
Betty Field
as Elizabeth Morton
Harry Carey
as Prof. John C. Warren
William Demarest
as Eben Frost
Louis Jean Heydt
as Dr. Horace Wells
Julius Tannen
as Dr. Jackson
Edwin Maxwell
as V.P. Medical Society
Porter Hall
as President Pierce
Franklin Pangborn
as Dr. Heywood
Grady Sutton
as Homer Quinby
Donivee Lee
as Betty Morton
Harry Hayden
as Judge Shipman
Torben Meyer
as Dr. Dahlmeyer
Victor Potel
as Dental Patient
Thurston Hall
as Senator Borland
Robert Dudley
as Cashier-Charles
Robert Frandsen
as Mr. Abbott
Sylvia Field
as Young Mother
Reginald Sheffield
as Young Father
Robert Greig
as Morton's Butler
Sheila Sheldon
as Servant Girl
Harry Rosenthal
as Mr. Chamberlain
Sig Arno
as Whackpot
Roscoe Ates
as Sign Painter
Al Bridge
as Mr. Stone
Georgia Caine
as Mrs. Whitman
Chester Conklin
as Frightened Patient
Jimmy Conlin
as Mr. Burnett
Byron Foulger
as Morton's Office Manager
Esther Howard
as Wells' Ugly Patient
Arthur Hoyt
as Presidential Secretary
Arthur Stuart Hull
as Mr. Whitman
Emory Parnell
as Gruber, Glassware Shop Owner
Dewey Robinson
as Colonel Lawson
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Critic Reviews for The Great Moment

All Critics (6) | Top Critics (2)

Recut by the studio and generally considered to be a failure, it's nevertheless an oddly moving film that sticks obstinately and agreeably in the mind.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Perhaps scientific inspiration is not conventionally reverenced in this film. But, at least, Mr. Sturges has triumphed over stiffness in screen biography.

Full Review… | March 25, 2006
New York Times
Top Critic

One of lesser known gems by master Preston Sturges.

February 19, 2008

Director Sturges, better known for his comedies, handles the drama and story well.

Full Review… | November 13, 2007
TV Guide

A very agreeable biopic that is both delightfully comical and insightfully touching.

Full Review… | October 21, 2007
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

An interesting failure of a movie.

Full Review… | May 24, 2003

Audience Reviews for The Great Moment


Recut by the studio and generally considered to be a failure, it's nevertheless an oddly moving film that sticks obstinately and agreeably in the mind. but this description is mixing 'the gr8 moment' with the 'gr8 mcginty' what a mess flixter!!!!!

Greg Wood
Greg Wood

Okay bio-pic a real change of pace for Sturges but it feels incomplete.

jay nixon
jay nixon

Super Reviewer


This biopic about William Thomas Green Morton (Joel McCrea), pioneer in the use of ether as a surgical anaesthetic, was a curious but not altogether successful departure for Preston Sturges. After a scrappy and sombre opening, during which the story threatens to unfold in reverse chronological order, the film settles into a lengthy flashback, lightens considerably and becomes very entertaining. It's almost as if Sturges set out to tell a sad tale with due solemnity (of a man who never received the recognition he deserved), managed to get so far into it and then couldn't resist throwing in some gags. Consequently, the film is never quite as funny as you want it to be but far too flippant to serve as a credible biopic. The performances, however, are uniformly excellent. Well worth seeing.

Stephen M
Stephen M

Super Reviewer

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