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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.



(screen play), (screen play) | 2 more credits »

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Mary Stilwell
General Powell
Edwin Hall
'Acid' Graham
Jack Bigelow
Jimmy Price
Mr. Johnson


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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Biography | Drama


Passed | See all certifications »




Release Date:

10 May 1940 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Edison, el hombre  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


This movie was made only 9 years after the real Thomas A. Edison died. 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 Thomas A. Edison but by Nikola Tesla. (Tesla held over 700 patents, including Radio. Guglielmo 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 short 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 »


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 »


Featured in Hollywood: Style Center of the World (1940) See more »


I'll Take You Home Again, Kathleen
Written by Thomas Payne Westendorf
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User Reviews

5 March 2000 | by See all my reviews

I like the fact that Edison was nominated for the Oscar for best Original Story. How many biopics can claim that honour ?

Spencer Tracy is excellent as the dynamic American inventor. Although he was a 40 year old playing a 25 year old he produced sufficient energy to overcome the obstacle of years. This is a fine piece of acting and is well supported by the bit-parts and by the director who clearly enjoys telling the story of Edison's finest achievements, the invention of the light bulb and of the recording device.

The main problem with the film is its lack of balance. We don't hear enough about his theft of patents and his failure to give credit to his co-workers. Edison is a metaphor for America in the early twentieth century, exciting, inventive, thrusting, dynamic but also shallow and lacking in grace.

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