Disputed Passage (1939)

89 mins | Drama | 27 October 1939

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HISTORY

The film opens with the following quotation from Walt Whitman: "Have you not learned great lessons from those who brace themselves against you, and disputed the passage with you?" The opening credits also include the following message from Lloyd C. Douglas, the writer of the novel on which the film was based: "Dear Paramount, thank you so much for preserving the full flavor of Disputed Passage in this beautiful picture. Those who liked the characters in the book will be glad to see them come to life here." According to an article in LAT , Robert Preston was originally to have portrayed the role of "John Wesley Beaven." Although the film credits Dr. E. Y. Chung with the role of "Dr. Ling" and Philip Ahn with the role of "Dr. Fung," the copyright records reverse those roles. News items in HR add that Gordon Jones, an ex-UCLA gridiron star, won a contract for his work on this film. The picture also marked the acting debut of Lee Ya-Ching, an activist for Chinese relief. On 25 Mar 1940, Lux Radio Theatre presented a radio version of this story starring Alan Ladd. According to modern sources, director Frank Borzage was loaned from M-G-M, and location shooting was done in the San Fernando Valley and at the UCLA ... More Less

The film opens with the following quotation from Walt Whitman: "Have you not learned great lessons from those who brace themselves against you, and disputed the passage with you?" The opening credits also include the following message from Lloyd C. Douglas, the writer of the novel on which the film was based: "Dear Paramount, thank you so much for preserving the full flavor of Disputed Passage in this beautiful picture. Those who liked the characters in the book will be glad to see them come to life here." According to an article in LAT , Robert Preston was originally to have portrayed the role of "John Wesley Beaven." Although the film credits Dr. E. Y. Chung with the role of "Dr. Ling" and Philip Ahn with the role of "Dr. Fung," the copyright records reverse those roles. News items in HR add that Gordon Jones, an ex-UCLA gridiron star, won a contract for his work on this film. The picture also marked the acting debut of Lee Ya-Ching, an activist for Chinese relief. On 25 Mar 1940, Lux Radio Theatre presented a radio version of this story starring Alan Ladd. According to modern sources, director Frank Borzage was loaned from M-G-M, and location shooting was done in the San Fernando Valley and at the UCLA campus. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
11 Oct 39
p. 3.
Film Daily
20 Oct 39
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Apr 39
pp. 6-7.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Apr 39
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Apr 39
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
3 May 39
p. 2, 15
Hollywood Reporter
12 Oct 39
p. 12.
Los Angeles Times
8-Mar-39
---
Motion Picture Daily
13 Oct 39
p. 1, 6
Motion Picture Herald
21 Oct 39
p. 36.
New York Times
26 Oct 39
p. 27.
Variety
18 Oct 39
p. 14.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Frank Borzage Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATOR
Int dec
COSTUMES
Cost
MUSIC
Mus score
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit mgr
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Disputed Passage by Lloyd C. Douglas (Boston, 1939).
DETAILS
Release Date:
27 October 1939
Premiere Information:
New York premiere: 25 October 1939
Production Date:
17 April--5 June 1939
Copyright Claimant:
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
27 October 1939
Copyright Number:
LP9201
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
89
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
PCA No:
5343
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Medical student John Wesley Beaven is devoted to his professor, Dr. "Tubby" Forster, a man renowned for his surgical skill as well as his cold heart. After completing his degree, John works diligently as Forster's assistant, adopting his mentor's ideal that science is pure fact and that the soul of man never enters into its practice. When he performs a successful operation on Audrey Hilton to heal a bullet wound she had suffered in the Japanese- Chinese war, John falls in love with her, and thereby renews his belief in the human spirit. Audrey, also known as Lan Ying, is an American reared by a Chinese family in Shanghai, and has dedicated her life to China. When John proposes marriage, she does not respond until she completes her personal mission, to repay her personal debt to her Chinese father, who was killed in Shanghai. Upon fulfilling her duty, she returns to John to marry him, but Forster interferes and convinces her that she would ruin John's life. Audrey returns to China, and John continues his work, severely depressed by Audrey's rejection. When he discovers Forster's interference, he travels to China to find Audrey, but stops at a war-torn hospital in Shen Tin to help a French surgeon, Dr. La Ferrierre, tend the wounded. John receives a serious head injury during an air raid, and when Forster hears this news, he travels to Shen Tin to operate on John. Despite primitive conditions, the operation is successful, but John remains in a coma. Finally, Audrey is found and brought to John's bedside, and her presence inspires his complete rehabilitation. Having witnessed a miracle and ... +


Medical student John Wesley Beaven is devoted to his professor, Dr. "Tubby" Forster, a man renowned for his surgical skill as well as his cold heart. After completing his degree, John works diligently as Forster's assistant, adopting his mentor's ideal that science is pure fact and that the soul of man never enters into its practice. When he performs a successful operation on Audrey Hilton to heal a bullet wound she had suffered in the Japanese- Chinese war, John falls in love with her, and thereby renews his belief in the human spirit. Audrey, also known as Lan Ying, is an American reared by a Chinese family in Shanghai, and has dedicated her life to China. When John proposes marriage, she does not respond until she completes her personal mission, to repay her personal debt to her Chinese father, who was killed in Shanghai. Upon fulfilling her duty, she returns to John to marry him, but Forster interferes and convinces her that she would ruin John's life. Audrey returns to China, and John continues his work, severely depressed by Audrey's rejection. When he discovers Forster's interference, he travels to China to find Audrey, but stops at a war-torn hospital in Shen Tin to help a French surgeon, Dr. La Ferrierre, tend the wounded. John receives a serious head injury during an air raid, and when Forster hears this news, he travels to Shen Tin to operate on John. Despite primitive conditions, the operation is successful, but John remains in a coma. Finally, Audrey is found and brought to John's bedside, and her presence inspires his complete rehabilitation. Having witnessed a miracle and triumph of the spirit, Forster asks Audrey's forgiveness. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.