Magnificent Obsession (1935) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • The life of spoiled rich Robert Merrick is saved through the use of a hospital's only resuscitator, but because the medical device cannot be in two places at once, it results in the death of Dr. Hudson, a selfless, brilliant surgeon and generous philanthropist. Merrick falls for Hudson's widow, Helen, though she holds him responsible for her husband's demise. One day, he insists on driving her home and makes a pass at her. She gets out of the car and is struck by another car, she then goes blind. Merrick then talks to a friend of Dr. Hudson who tells him that her husband had a philosophy-to help people, but never let it be known that you are the one helping them. Only then, he believed, could there be true reward in life. Merrick watches over Helen, and visits her during her recuperation, concealing his identity and calling himself Dr. Robert. When he finds out that she is nearly penniless, he secretly pays for specialists to try to restore her vision. Finally, she travels to Paris and is told that her eyesight is gone forever. Robert follows her, confesses his true identity and proposes marriage. She forgives him, but goes away, not wanting to be a burden to him. Years later, Robert puts himself thru school and becomes a brain surgeon. He learns that Helen urgently needs an operation, which he performs. When she awakens, her sight has miraculously returned.

  • Renowned surgeon Dr. Wayne Hudson, head of private Brightwood Hospital, dies is a swimming accident, as the one and only iron lung from the hospital that could have saved him was instead used on wealthy, privileged and entitled ne'er-do-well Bobby Merrick, whose drunken boating accident was just the latest incident in a life of reckless and careless behavior. Dr. Hudson is survived by his young, supportive bride Helen Hudson, and his adult daughter Joyce Hudson, who, not knowing Merrick except by reputation, don't think they could ever forgive him. Following Dr. Hudson's death, Helen learns that he secretly embarked on a philosophy - his magnificent obsession - of helping others without any material return for a better world, which led to him spending all his money on others. When Helen and Bobby do meet, without each knowing who the other is, there is an immediate attraction between the two. Each does eventually learn the identity of the other, at which time Helen retreats, but doesn't stop Bobby from falling in love with her. It isn't until Helen's life further fundamentally changed from something indirectly caused by him that Bobby begins his own journey with this magnificent obsession, at the possible risk of losing Helen altogether.



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