Story of Dr. Wassell, The (1944): DeMille’s Biopic of Patriotic Doctor, Starring Gary Cooper

Cecil B. DeMille directed The Story of Dr. Wassell, a WWII biopic tale set in the Dutch East Indies, starring Gary Cooper, Laraine Day, Signe Hasso and Dennis O’Keefe.

The Story of Dr. Wassell
The Story of Dr. Wassell 1944 Poster.jpg

Theatrical release poster

The film was based on a book of the same name by novelist James Hilton, better known for penning Goodbye Mr. Chips.

The film was inspired by the wartime activities of U.S. Navy Doctor Corydon M. Wassell

Wassell’s actions were referred to by President Roosevelt in radio broadcast made in April 1942 (and appear at the end of the film).

The film was extremely popular in the U.S. and abroad, especially in Australia (seen in 1945) and France (released in 1946).

Oscar Context:

Farciot Edouart, Gordon Jennings and George Dutton received a nomination for the Oscar for Best Effects.

Gary Cooper as Dr. Corydon M. Wassell
Laraine Day as Madeleine
Signe Hasso as Bettina
Dennis O’Keefe as Benjamin ‘Hoppy’ Hopkins
Carol Thurston as Tremartini
Carl Esmond as Lt. Dirk Van Daal
Paul Kelly as Murdock
Elliott Reid as William ‘Andy’ Anderson
Stanley Ridges as Cmdr. William B. ‘Bill’ Goggins
Renny McEvoy as Johnny Leeweather
Oliver Thorndike as Alabam
Philip Ahn as Ping
Barbara Britton as Ruth

Cecil B. DeMille as Narrator (uncredited)


Directed by Cecil B. DeMille
Produced by Cecil B. DeMille
Screenplay by Alan Le May and Charles Bennett, based on the novel by Corydon M. Wassell and James Hilton

Music by Victor Young
Cinematography: Victor Milner, William E. Snyder

Edited by Anne Bauchens
Production company: Paramount Pictures

Distributed by Paramount Pictures

Release date: July 4, 1944

Running time: 140 minutes