Magnificent Obsession (1936)

110 or 112 mins | Melodrama | 6 January 1936

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HISTORY

News items in HR and DV noted that Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. was wanted for the lead at one time, that Jane Wyatt and Warren Hull were tested for leading roles in the film, and that Charles Ruggles was also considered for the cast. According to DV news items, production was originally scheduled to begin 8 Jul, however was delayed due to casting difficulties. The HR review indicates the film cost just under $1,000,000. A DV news item indicated that Irene Dunne earned approximately $145,000 for her part. Universal borrowed Robert Taylor from M-G-M for his role in this film. Although Taylor already had appeared in several films, modern sources credit Magnificent Obsession with bringing him into prominence. According to modern sources, Universal originally offered the direction of this film to Frank Borzage, but Jack Warner of Warner Bros. refused to let him go. In 1954, Universal released a remake directed by Douglas Sirk and starring Jane Wyman and Rock ... More Less

News items in HR and DV noted that Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. was wanted for the lead at one time, that Jane Wyatt and Warren Hull were tested for leading roles in the film, and that Charles Ruggles was also considered for the cast. According to DV news items, production was originally scheduled to begin 8 Jul, however was delayed due to casting difficulties. The HR review indicates the film cost just under $1,000,000. A DV news item indicated that Irene Dunne earned approximately $145,000 for her part. Universal borrowed Robert Taylor from M-G-M for his role in this film. Although Taylor already had appeared in several films, modern sources credit Magnificent Obsession with bringing him into prominence. According to modern sources, Universal originally offered the direction of this film to Frank Borzage, but Jack Warner of Warner Bros. refused to let him go. In 1954, Universal released a remake directed by Douglas Sirk and starring Jane Wyman and Rock Hudson. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
14 Jun 35
p. 17.
Daily Variety
8 Jul 35
p. 2.
Daily Variety
12 Jul 35
p. 5.
Daily Variety
22 Oct 35
p. 1.
Daily Variety
31 Dec 35
p. 3.
Film Daily
31 Dec 35
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
17 May 35
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Jul 35
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Dec 35
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Jan 36
pp. 5-14.
Motion Picture Daily
3 Dec 35
p. 12.
Motion Picture Herald
5 Oct 35
p. 50.
Motion Picture Herald
11 Jan 36
pp. 52-53.
New York Times
31 Dec 35
p. 11.
Variety
8 Jan 36
p. 12.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Theodore von Eltz
Sidney Bracey
Melissa Teneyck
Jean DeBriac
Jane Barnes
Isabelle LeMal
Monty Vandegrift
Antoinette Lees
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A John M. Stahl Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Contr wrt
Contr wrt
Contr wrt
Contr wrt
Contr wrt
Contr wrt
Contr wrt
Contr wrt
Contr wrt
PHOTOGRAPHY
2d cam
Asst cam
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Supv film ed
COSTUMES
Gowns
MUSIC
Mus dir
SOUND
Sd supv
VISUAL EFFECTS
MAKEUP
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr clerk
Prod secy
Rehearsal dir
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Magnificent Obsession by Lloyd C. Douglas (New York, 1933).
DETAILS
Release Date:
6 January 1936
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 30 December 1935
Production Date:
12 July 1935--29 October 1935
Copyright Claimant:
Universal Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
20 December 1935
Copyright Number:
LP6014
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Noiseless Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
110 or 112
Length(in reels):
13
Country:
United States
PCA No:
1747
SYNOPSIS

Helen Hudson mourns the sudden death of her husband, who drowned because the hospital's only pulmotor was being used on Robert Merrick, a selfish and spoiled youth who was drunk at the time he nearly drowned. Dr. Hudson was a brilliant surgeon and philanthropist, and Helen is surprised to find that he had given away large sums of money during his lifetime. Several people, including a sculptor named Randolph, reveal that they were the beneficiaries of Dr. Hudson's money, and that he helped a great many people in secret. Robert falls in love with Helen at first sight, but his efforts are fruitless, as she holds him responsible for her husband's death. One night Robert gets drunk and is given refuge by Randolph, who informs him that Dr. Hudson taught him how to "make contact with a source of infinite power," and that by making use of this information, Randolph elevated himself from a simple stonecutter to a sculptor. Dr. Hudson's secret, which Randolph reveals to Robert, is to give help to people in utter secrecy, and never take back anything. Robert takes this information lightly but later, gives a panhandler some cash and then sees Helen and believes she is his reward. He insists she allow him to take her home, but when he runs out of gas and becomes amorous, she gets out and is hit by another car. Helen recovers, but loses her sight due to brain damage. Robert watches her progress closely and befriends her, calling himself Dr. Robert so she will not know who he is. When he finds out that her stocks and ... +


Helen Hudson mourns the sudden death of her husband, who drowned because the hospital's only pulmotor was being used on Robert Merrick, a selfish and spoiled youth who was drunk at the time he nearly drowned. Dr. Hudson was a brilliant surgeon and philanthropist, and Helen is surprised to find that he had given away large sums of money during his lifetime. Several people, including a sculptor named Randolph, reveal that they were the beneficiaries of Dr. Hudson's money, and that he helped a great many people in secret. Robert falls in love with Helen at first sight, but his efforts are fruitless, as she holds him responsible for her husband's death. One night Robert gets drunk and is given refuge by Randolph, who informs him that Dr. Hudson taught him how to "make contact with a source of infinite power," and that by making use of this information, Randolph elevated himself from a simple stonecutter to a sculptor. Dr. Hudson's secret, which Randolph reveals to Robert, is to give help to people in utter secrecy, and never take back anything. Robert takes this information lightly but later, gives a panhandler some cash and then sees Helen and believes she is his reward. He insists she allow him to take her home, but when he runs out of gas and becomes amorous, she gets out and is hit by another car. Helen recovers, but loses her sight due to brain damage. Robert watches her progress closely and befriends her, calling himself Dr. Robert so she will not know who he is. When he finds out that her stocks and bonds are worthless, he secretly has them replaced with some of his own and then investigates the possibility of a cure through specialists. Helen's sister-in-law, Joyce, and her friend, Nancy Ashford, meet Robert, but keep his identity a secret. When Helen is approached by several eye specialists, she attributes it to her husband's reknown, unaware of Robert's interest. Helen travels to Paris to consult with the eye specialists, where she finds out that her blindness is incurable and falls into a deep depression. Robert's arrival cheers her immeasurably, and after he proposes to her and confesses his true identity, she forgives him for everything and says he will receive his answer in the morning. By morning, Helen has disappeared, leaving a note that she is afraid of being a burden to everyone and intends to take up life on her own. Six years later, Robert returns to America a Nobel-Prize winning brain surgeon, having completed his medical education. He is greeted by Helen's family and friends, who have not seen her in many years, and then by Randolph, whom Robert recalls as the man who taught him about Dr. Hudson's "magnificent obsession." Randolph tells him that Helen is urgently in need of surgery, and Robert departs immediately and performs the operation. The surgery is a success, and when Helen awakens, she has her beloved Robert at her side and her sight recovered. +

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.