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Edison, the Man (1940)

Passed | | Biography, Drama | 10 May 1940 (USA)
82 year old inventor and entrepreneur Thomas Alva Edison is honored in 1929 and he reflects back on his sixty year career of scientific achievement.

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(screen play), (screen play) | 2 more credits »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Rita Johnson ...
Lynne Overman ...
Bunt Cavatt
...
General Powell
...
Mr. Taggart
...
Ben Els
Felix Bressart ...
Michael Simon
Peter Godfrey ...
Ashton
Guy D'Ennery ...
Lundstrom
Byron Foulger ...
Edwin Hall
Milton Parsons ...
'Acid' Graham
Arthur Aylesworth ...
Bigelow
Gene Reynolds ...
Jimmy Price
Addison Richards ...
Mr. Johnson
...
Snade
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Storyline

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 duke1029@aol.com

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Genres:

Biography | Drama

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

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Release Date:

10 May 1940 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Edison, el hombre  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This was one of the films that Spencer Tracy really believed in and actively supported not because he starred in it, but because he was a great admirer of Thomas A. Edison. This was unusual as Tracy was known throughout most of his career to disparage his own gifts as well as the importance of motion pictures. Also, prior to this film Spencer Tracy had been a very active member of the "Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences". He even hosted the awards show on at least one occasion. However when the nominations came out for the best films of 1940, Tracy was appalled that "Edison the Man" was so overlooked in the nominations. It was only nominated for best writing. Tracy swore he would never attend another academy award ceremony again. He never did. Not without irony is that although he was nominated another 6 times over the next 28 years, Tracy never won another Oscar after that after winning two in a row in the previous two years. See more »

Goofs

Thomas A. Edison's hearing ability is played in the movie as being much better than it was in reality. See trivia. See more »

Quotes

Mr. Taggart: We've no guarantee that these theories of yours are workable.
Thomas A. Edison: Well, most electricity is theory yet.
Mr. Taggart: That's the trouble. Beyond a point what good is electricity anyway?
Thomas A. Edison: What good is a newborn baby?
See more »

Crazy Credits

The opening credits appear as 19th Century sampler embroideries. See more »

Connections

Featured in Servant of Mankind (1940) See more »

Soundtracks

Meeting in the Rain
(uncredited)
Music by David Snell and Herbert Stothart
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User Reviews

The stock ticker, the electric light, the power grid, the phonograph, the motion picture camera...
13 November 2004 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Spencer Tracy rarely played real people. He played a character based on Arnold Rothstein in an early film for Fox, and Henry Morton Stanley in STANLEY AND LIVINGSTON, and Rogers of Rogers' Rangers in NORTHWEST PASSAGE, and Clarence Darrow (Henry Drummond) in INHERIT THE WIND, and the Captain of the Mayflower in PLYMOUTH ADVENTURE. It seems like a large number of films, but it is really less than three percent of his movies. He also appeared in this film as the great inventor (over 1,000 patents) Thomas Alva Edison (1847 - 1931).

In 1940 Edison was a national hero. Nobody was quite like him, although Alexander Graham Bell (soon to be subject of a film starring Don Ameche) was a figure of great interest too. So was Samuel Morse, inventor of the telegraph, and Eli Whitney, inventor of the Cotton Gin. However no films were made about them. There was a film with Fred MacMurray and Alice Faye about Robert Fulton and his steamboat, but none about the Wright brothers.

Because of the period of history it was made in, film biography rarely was totally dispassionate. All Americans heroes were flawless, so all questions about Edison's stealing credit from assistants or other inventors was pushed aside (his involvement in the patent battles about the telephone is not mentioned). Nor were his flop inventions: pre-fabricated houses made of cement (actually a good idea, but ahead of it's time), the attempt to be the biggest gold ore refiner in the East (using huge machines to grind the ore out of rocks), the electric car motor. His bigoted feelings towards foreigners (Jews, rival inventors like Nicola Tesla) were not mentioned, nor was his rejection of the offer of a joint 1911 Nobel Prize for Physics (for the accidental discovery of the Edison Affect of carbonization in electricity) because he had to have it with Tesla for discovering alternating current. None of this is mentioned...only the string of great inventions he had a major hand in from 1868 to 1894. As a surface study of his career it is passable, and Tracy and the cast (in particular Gene Lockhart as his critic and nemesis Taggart) are splendid. You'll be entertained, but read A STREAK OF LUCK by Robert Conot for the true story.


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