Hoored at a banquet for his sixty year career as an inventor, scientist, and businessman, 89 year old Thomas Alva Edison reflects back on his long career, which includes such achievements as the stock market ticker, the phonograph, the light bulb, and the motion picture. Written by
In the film, Edison and his wife communicate with each other by tapping out Morse code. In the movie this is presented as a charming endearment, but in fact Edison was so deaf the only way he and his wife could talk was by tapping Morse code on each other's hands. See more »
The montage sequence depicting Edison's inventions lists "electric power transmission" over a shot of a massive transmission line and the tower that holds it up. That technology was actually developed not by Edison but by Nikola Tesla. (Tesla held over 700 patents, including Radio. Marconi stole the radio patent from Tesla. The US Patent office has since revoked Marconi's claim, giving it to Tesla.) Edison insisted on powering his lights with direct current, which could only travel sort distances from the generators that produced it. Tesla used alternating current, which could be run through transformers to increase its voltage so it could be moved over long distances, then reduced in voltage again for home use. Tesla's alternating current, not Edison's direct current, quickly became the standard and is what we use today. See more »
You don't see these kind of old-fashioned biographies anymore. There have been very few in the last 40 years. Yes, many of the classic biographies sugar-coated the stories, ignoring a person's negative traits, but today's films mostly do the opposite, so it's nice to re-visit a movie in which an American hero is shown as just that. One gets tired of all the trashing.
Thomas Alva Edison certainly was a hero with his incredible inventions (i.e., the light bulb) which affected almost everyone on the planet to a significant degree. This movie goes to great lengths to show Edison's persistence in reaching his goals while also highlighting the dedication of the men who worked for him.
Spencer Tracy as Edison, along with Rita Johnson, Lynne Overman, Charles Coburn, Gene Lockhart, Henry Travers and Felix Bressart make this a pretty solid movie. It's not spectacular, probably not worth more than one look, maybe two, but it's a story that should be seen about an amazing period in history.
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