The Great Moment (1921) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Great Moment1921

The Great Moment (1921)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

The Great Moment Photos

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 (7) | 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.

June 24, 2006 | Full Review…
Top Critic

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

March 25, 2006 | Rating: 3.5/5 | Full Review…

The wise magnates, as usual, will proceed to wonder why they are losing money, and why patriotic American audiences are so eager to patronize German-made movies.

October 5, 2021 | Full Review…

One of lesser known gems by master Preston Sturges.

February 19, 2008 | Rating: 5/5

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

November 13, 2007 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

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

October 21, 2007 | Rating: A- | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Great Moment


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

The Great Moment Quotes

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