Life Returns (1938)

60 mins | Documentary, Melodrama | 10 June 1938

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HISTORY

According to news items in DV , director Eugen Frenke was originally assigned to adapt Leo Tolstoi's novel Father Sergius to the screen, but Universal was concerned that the subject matter would not be approved by censors, and assigned Frenke to direct his original story. Further news items indicate that Universal pulled the film from release after a preview, and declared the film to be a "freak picture, not suitable for the regular Universal program," although the studio had invested approximately $40,000 in the production. Despite this announcement, Universal did release the film for a special road show run. According to reviews, this film uses actual footage of an operation performed by Dr. Cornish on 22 May 1934, in Berkeley, CA, in which he revived a dead canine. Var notes that Dr. Cornish's assistants Mario Margutti, William Black, Ralph Celmar and Roderick Krida, appear in the film. Although most reviews for this film were published in 1934-35, no release date could be found in either year. The earliest documented release date is 10 Jun 1938. An editor's note in Exh noted that according to Grand National, the film not released in ... More Less

According to news items in DV , director Eugen Frenke was originally assigned to adapt Leo Tolstoi's novel Father Sergius to the screen, but Universal was concerned that the subject matter would not be approved by censors, and assigned Frenke to direct his original story. Further news items indicate that Universal pulled the film from release after a preview, and declared the film to be a "freak picture, not suitable for the regular Universal program," although the studio had invested approximately $40,000 in the production. Despite this announcement, Universal did release the film for a special road show run. According to reviews, this film uses actual footage of an operation performed by Dr. Cornish on 22 May 1934, in Berkeley, CA, in which he revived a dead canine. Var notes that Dr. Cornish's assistants Mario Margutti, William Black, Ralph Celmar and Roderick Krida, appear in the film. Although most reviews for this film were published in 1934-35, no release date could be found in either year. The earliest documented release date is 10 Jun 1938. An editor's note in Exh noted that according to Grand National, the film not released in 1935. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
30 Aug 34
p. 4.
Daily Variety
8 Sep 34
p. 1.
Daily Variety
20 Sep 34
p. 3.
Daily Variety
11 Dec 34
p. 4.
Daily Variety
17 Dec 34
p. 6.
Film Daily
2 Jan 35
p. 38.
Motion Picture Herald
13 Oct 34
p. 46.
Motion Picture Herald
12 Jan 35
pp. 26-27.
The Exhibitor
1 Jun 38
p. 139.
The Exhibitor
1 Aug 38
p. 167.
Variety
4 Jan 39
p. 14.
DETAILS
Release Date:
10 June 1938
Production Date:
8 September--19 September 1934
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Victor High Fidelity Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
60
Length(in feet):
5,426
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
425
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Brilliant young scientists Dr. Louise Stone, Dr. John Kendrick and Dr. Robert E. Cornish dedicate their lives to the service of humanity. Upon graduation from medical school, Stone and Cornish begin their own research, while John takes a job with a research company so he can use their facilities to discover a life-giving fluid. For some time John enjoys success and marries a socialite. Eventually, however, the research company loses faith in his project and fires him after he refuses to abandon it to develop beauty products. Disillusioned, John discontinues his private practice and becomes irrational and obsessed with his project, working on it at home. Because John is unable to take care of him, his son Danny is placed in juvenile hall after his mother dies. Danny runs away from the hall, and, with his dog "Scooter," joins a boy's gang. Louise visits John and attempts to inspire him through tales of Cornish's success, but John is impervious to encouragement, and is berated by Louise for abandoning his son. One day, while the gang tries to set "Scooter" free from the pound, one of the boys fractures his leg and the dog is killed. Unstable and unsure of his abilities as a doctor, John sends another doctor to help the injured boy and refuses Danny's pleas to use his life-giving fluid on "Scooter." John instead brings the dog to Dr. Cornish's laboratory, and after a miraculous operation, the dog is revived. The boys find Danny and bring him to the laboratory, where he is reunited with his ... +


Brilliant young scientists Dr. Louise Stone, Dr. John Kendrick and Dr. Robert E. Cornish dedicate their lives to the service of humanity. Upon graduation from medical school, Stone and Cornish begin their own research, while John takes a job with a research company so he can use their facilities to discover a life-giving fluid. For some time John enjoys success and marries a socialite. Eventually, however, the research company loses faith in his project and fires him after he refuses to abandon it to develop beauty products. Disillusioned, John discontinues his private practice and becomes irrational and obsessed with his project, working on it at home. Because John is unable to take care of him, his son Danny is placed in juvenile hall after his mother dies. Danny runs away from the hall, and, with his dog "Scooter," joins a boy's gang. Louise visits John and attempts to inspire him through tales of Cornish's success, but John is impervious to encouragement, and is berated by Louise for abandoning his son. One day, while the gang tries to set "Scooter" free from the pound, one of the boys fractures his leg and the dog is killed. Unstable and unsure of his abilities as a doctor, John sends another doctor to help the injured boy and refuses Danny's pleas to use his life-giving fluid on "Scooter." John instead brings the dog to Dr. Cornish's laboratory, and after a miraculous operation, the dog is revived. The boys find Danny and bring him to the laboratory, where he is reunited with his father. +

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.