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The Story of Alexander Graham Bell (1939)

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Alexander Graham Bell falls in love with deaf girl Mabel Hubbard while teaching the deaf and trying to invent means for telegraphing the human voice. She urges him to put off thoughts of ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
...
Thomas Sanders
...
Mrs. Hubbard
...
Gertrude Hubbard
Polly Ann Young ...
Grace Hubbard
Georgiana Young ...
Berta Hubbard
Bobs Watson ...
George Sanders
Russell Hicks ...
Mr. Barrows
Paul Stanton ...
Chauncey Smith
Jonathan Hale ...
President of Western Union
...
Judge Rider
Beryl Mercer ...
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Storyline

Alexander Graham Bell falls in love with deaf girl Mabel Hubbard while teaching the deaf and trying to invent means for telegraphing the human voice. She urges him to put off thoughts of marriage until his experiments are complete. He invents the telephone, marries and becomes rich and famous, though his happiness is threatened when a rival company sets out to ruin him. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Darryl F. Zanuck's Entertainment gem will take its place in the Hall of Fame !


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

14 April 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A História de Alexander Graham Bell  »

Box Office

Budget:

$1,500,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

After the film was released, the telephone was commonly called the "Ameche", a slang term referring to actor Don Ameche who played the telephone's inventor. This association is explained in the film Ball of Fire (1941), showing the term was still in use two years after the release of the original film. See more »

Goofs

Bell said, that he sent the first time a sound through a wire, in the 1870s. The actual first sound through a wire was made by Philipp Reis in 1862. See more »

Quotes

Alexander Graham Bell: ...shall the lonely scientist, the man who dreams, and out of his dreams benefits the world, is he, that often half-starved, lonely little man, to be told the world has no need of him the moment his work is done?
Alexander Graham Bell: Is he to be told that others, less gifted, but stronger, men with money and power behind them, are waiting to take the product of his genius and turn it to their own uses? -leaving him with liar and thief branded on his brow as his only reward? Do that, and you stop the clock of ...
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Dizzy Pilots (1943) See more »

Soundtracks

The First Noel
Traditional 17th century hymn
Sung a cappella by unidentified carollers on Christmas Eve
See more »

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User Reviews

 
The invention of The Ameche
8 July 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Don Ameche has the title role in "The Story of Alexander Graham Bell" in this 1939 film starring Henry Fonda, Loretta Young, Charles Coburn, Gene Lockhart, and Spring Byington.

This movie was a big hit - it must have been, because in 1941's "Ball of Fire," Barbara Stanwyck teaches Gary Cooper slang and refers to the telephone as "the Ameche," as others have mentioned here. As far as how accurate the story is - for Fox, not bad at all. The background of Bell's teaching experience and family history of working with speech and sound is correct, he did have a demonstration of his new device, he did have patent problems, he did take on the little boy and Mabel as deaf clients to teach, he did teach finger-spelling, he did have patent problems, he did marry Mabel, their first child was a girl, and Mabel's father was one of his investors. The Fonda character, Watson, was also real, though Bell had two other assistants, and the scene where Bell finds out the telephone works when he calls for Watson is accurate. Also, Bell mentions a great interest in aeronautics in the movie - he indeed did a lot of work in aeronautics later on.

Don Ameche does a great job as Bell. Before Tyrone Power appeared at 20th Century Fox, Ameche was set for many more lead roles; Power's popularity pushed him into second leads. If Ameche seems melodramatic in the courtroom scenes, that was the style of the day. He gives a serious, intense, and sincere performance. It's probably the role for which he's best remembered. Henry Fonda is wonderful - he's funny and relaxed, positively excellent. In another year, he'd be starring in his own movies. Loretta Young as Mabel is believable as well as lovely, and her sisters in real life -- Sally Blane, Polly Young, and Georgiana Young - play her sisters here.

Gene Lockhart as Sanders is another standout in a poignant performance as a man who wants his deaf son to be able to speak. Charles Coburn plays Mable's no-nonsense, gruff father very well.

Considering that the movie "Suez" is fiction from beginning to end, 20th Century Fox is to be commended for bringing so much real history into this film and making it so entertaining.


6 of 6 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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