Magnificent Obsession (1935): John Stahl’s Melodrama, Catapulting Robert Taylor to Major Stardom

Robert Taylor became a star after playing the male lead opposite Irene Dunne in John Stahl’s melodrama, Magnificent Obsession.

Magnificent Obsession

Movie poster
no fax payday loansObsession,” based on a best-selling novel by Lloyd C. Douglas.

The premise was so popular–a man who has ruined a woman’s life attempts to make good on his debt to her and his conscience—and the movie such a box-office hot that it was remade in the 1950s by Douglas Sirk as a glossy color melodrama with Rock Hudson and Jane Wyman in the leads.

Taylor plays Robby Merrick, an alcoholic ne’er-do-well whose recklessness causes the death of Dr. Hudson, a respected physician.

Helen Hudson (Irene Dunne), the doctor’s widow, turns away from Merrick’s apology, only to walk into traffic. She’s struck by a car and blinded. Shaken by the tragic events, Merrick gives up alcohol and decides to become a doctor so that he can right the wrong he’s done to Helen.

As Merricke begins spending time at the family’s estate through a mutual friend, Helen grows fond of his frequent visits, and they fall in love. However, when Helen learns that Merrick is responsible for her husband’s death and her own accident, she moves away to a far-away place.

Meanwhile, Merrick becomes a gifted eye surgeon, and he learns that he could restore Helen’s sight with a dangerous operation that he has never performed before.


Produced, directed by John M. Stahl
Screenplay by Sarah Y. Mason, Victor Heerman, George O’Neil, based on Magnificent Obsession 1929 novel by Lloyd C. Douglas
Music by Franz Waxman
Cinematography John J. Mescall
Edited by Milton Carruth
Distributed by Universal Pictures

Release date: December 30, 1935

Running time: 112 minutes.