Journal of Medical Humanities

, Volume 40, Issue 4, pp 553–568 | Cite as

Golden Ages and Silver Screens: The Construction of the Physician Hero in 1930-1940 American Cinema

  • Christopher R. CashmanEmail author


During the 1940s in America, as medicine became more research-focused, medical researcher heroes were described as devotedly pursuing miraculous medicine. At the same time, Hollywood thrived, and films were an effective means to help build the myth of the physician hero. Cinematic techniques, rather than only the narrative, of four films, Dr. Arrowsmith, The Story of Louis Pasteur, Dr. Ehrlich’s Magic Bullet, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, are discussed to understand how they helped construct the image of the physician hero, both in terms of what they were and what they were not.


Physician hero Film analysis Cinema Medical researcher Hollywood 



The author wishes to thank Dr. Mary Fissell and Ms. Christine Ruggere of the Johns Hopkins University Institute of the History of Medicine for their invaluable assistance and feedback during the research for and writing of this manuscript. Gratitude is also due to the Scholarly Concentration program through the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine for their support of this project.


Author was supported by the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine MSTP/MD-PhD Training Grant, GM00739 from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.MSTP/MD-PhD ProgramJohns Hopkins University School of MedicineBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.Department of MedicineBrigham and Women’s HospitalBostonUSA

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