Inventor Thomas Edison's boyhood is chronicled and shows him as a lad whose early inventions and scientific experiments usually end up causing disastrous results. As a result, the towns ... See full summary »
Mr. and Mrs. Maitland invite Whitey to their home on a trial basis. Whitey tries to visit a friend in reform school and inmate Flip is hiding in car as Whitey leaves. Flip steals money and ... See full summary »
Against all odds Father Flanagan starts "Boys' Town" after hearing a convict's story. Whitey Marsh comes there. He runs away but, hungry, returns. He runs away again but, when friend Pee ... See full summary »
Langdon Towne and Hunk Marriner join Major Rogers' Rangers as they wipe out an Indian village. They set out for Fort Wentworth, but when they arrive they find no soldiers and none of the supplies they expected.
Maj. Pete Sandidge is a very able pilot who seems to have a streak of luck as far as flying goes. World War II is raging and Pete has come out of it pretty so far. He even has a beautiful ... See full summary »
Mary Rafferty comes from a poor family of steel mill workers in 19th Century Pittsburgh. Her family objects when she goes to work as a maid for the wealthy Scott family which controls the ... See full summary »
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
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 »
Thomas A. Edison's hearing ability is played in the movie as being much better than it was in reality. See trivia. See more »
The stock ticker, the electric light, the power grid, the phonograph, the motion picture camera...
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.
15 of 18 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?