7.1/10
854
27 user 11 critic

The Magic Box (1951)

Approved | | Biography, Drama | 21 January 1952 (UK)
The story of William Friese-Greene, a British inventor who (this film would have you think) made the first movie camera.

Director:

Writers:

(based on the biography: "Friese-Greene, Close Up of an Inventor"), (screenplay)
Reviews

Watch Now

From $2.99 on Amazon Video

ON DISC
Nominated for 2 BAFTA Film Awards. Another 1 win. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

On a routine flight from Hong-Kong to Japan, a British military transport aircraft's fate may or may not depend on a prophetic nightmare.

Director: Leslie Norman
Stars: Michael Redgrave, Sheila Sim, Alexander Knox
Comedy | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

In WW2, a failed British officer is selected by his uncle, a Brigadier with the War Office, to participate in a secret operation to "recover" looted artworks from the Nazis.

Director: John Boulting
Stars: Ian Carmichael, Ronald Adam, Henry B. Longhurst
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

An aged teacher and former headmaster of a boarding school recalls his career and his personal life over the decades.

Directors: Sam Wood, Sidney Franklin
Stars: Robert Donat, Greer Garson, Terry Kilburn
The Outsider (1948)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Jack Read, a working-class boy, wins a scholarship to a public school as part of a post-World War Two experiment in bringing boys of different social classes together. He meets much ... See full summary »

Director: Roy Boulting
Stars: Richard Attenborough, Sheila Sim, Bernard Miles
Certificate: GP Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A man who wants to move on with his life by moving to California and marry his girlfriend, finds it difficult as he still lives in the towering shadow of his aging father.

Director: Gilbert Cates
Stars: Melvyn Douglas, Gene Hackman, Dorothy Stickney
War | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

In 1940, a concentration-camp escapee assumes the identity of a dead British officer, only to become a prisoner of war.

Director: Basil Dearden
Stars: Michael Redgrave, Rachel Kempson, Frederick Leister
First Snow (2006)
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

A psychic's ominous reading sends a man into a tailspin.

Director: Mark Fergus
Stars: Guy Pearce, Piper Perabo, William Fichtner
Term of Trial (1962)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Graham Weir is an alcoholic schoolteacher whose criminal record for refusing to fight during the Second World War has prevented him from progressing further in his teaching career. He is ... See full summary »

Director: Peter Glenville
Stars: Laurence Olivier, Simone Signoret, Sarah Miles
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

The title refers to the creatures a very poor addled old lady (Dame Edith Evans) imagines in her paranoid fantasies. They lurk behind every drip, drip, drip of a leaky faucet. They listen ... See full summary »

Director: Bryan Forbes
Stars: Edith Evans, Nanette Newman, Harry Baird
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

In early 1900s England, a maid tries to blackmail her master into romancing her when she discovers he murdered his wife.

Director: Arthur Lubin
Stars: Stewart Granger, Jean Simmons, Bill Travers
Action | Adventure | Biography
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

The true story of the British explorer Robert Falcon Scott and his ill-fated expedition to try to be the first man to discover the South Pole - only to find that the murderously cold ... See full summary »

Director: Charles Frend
Stars: John Mills, Derek Bond, Diana Churchill
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

The story of an RAF fighter squadron at the height of the Battle of Britain.

Director: George More O'Ferrall
Stars: Jack Hawkins, Michael Denison, Andrew Osborn
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Miss Tagg (as Renee Asherson)
...
Jack Carter
...
Martin Boddey ...
Sitter in Bath Studio
Edward Chapman ...
Father in Family Group
John Charlesworth ...
Graham Friese-Greene
Maurice Colbourne ...
Bride's Father in Wedding Group
Roland Culver ...
1st Company Promoter
John Howard Davies ...
Maurice Friese-Greene
Michael Denison ...
Reporter
...
Joan Dowling ...
Maggie
Henry Edwards ...
Butler at Fox Talbot's
Mary Ellis ...
Mrs. Nell Collings
Marjorie Fielding ...
Elderly Viscountess
Edit

Storyline

Now old, ill, poor, and largely forgotten, William Freise-Greene was once very different. As young and handsome William Green he changed his name to include his first wife's so that it sounded more impressive for the photographic portrait work he was so good at. But he was also an inventor and his search for a way to project moving pictures became an obsession that ultimately changed the life of all those he loved. Written by Jeremy Perkins <jwp@aber.ac.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A rich and deeply moving story of a man whose achievement opened up a new world, and of the two women whose love and sacrifices made it possible!

Genres:

Biography | Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

21 January 1952 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

A Caixa Mágica  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (DVD) | (edited) | (TV)

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Color:

(Colour by) (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

The film features three real life married couples: (1) Robert Donat (William Friese-Greene) and Renée Asherson (Miss Tagg), (2) Richard Attenborough (Jack Carter) and Sheila Sim (Nursemaid) and (3) John McCallum (Sitter in Bath Studio) and Googie Withers (Sitter in Bath Studio). See more »

Goofs

In 1915 when Green's three eldest sons join the army, the landlord's agent mentions that the Spanish influenza is going around. In actuality the Spanish influenza did not begin until 1918. See more »

Quotes

William Fox-Talbot: The original thinker - the innovator - mustn't mind seeming a little foolish to his contemporaries. He must always look to his star... In the end, he may still fail. That's unimportant. If he is true to himself, he won't be too unhappy or embittered, even in failure, and will still speak for what is good.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: WILLIAM FRIESE-GREENE 1855 1921 followed by the year 1921 See more »

Connections

Features The Arrival of a Train (1896) See more »

Soundtracks

There's a Long, Long Trail a-Winding
(1913) (uncredited)
Written by Zo Elliott and Stoddard King
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Terrific film for film collectors and film buffs
8 January 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This is the 1951 feature made by the British film industry to celebrate the festival of Britain. The film stars a virtual who's who of all the famous British cinema actors of that time, and one of the fun things about this film is trying to identify all of them as they pop up in various cameo roles. The story is the biography of William Friese- Greene, who this film claims invented the motion picture camera and projector. Edison and Lumiere are casually acknowledged as also being motion picture pioneers, but Friese-Greene is claimed to have had the first intermittent mechanism (presumably the Maltese cross) used in today's cinema projectors. It also claims that he invented the biocolour process, where color motion pictures are produced by rotating two color filters in front of the camera and projector (KinemaColour). The lead role is beautifully played by Robert Donat as the quiet intense inventor obsessed with producing moving photographs, and his wife is competently played by Maria Schell. Also appearing in cameo roles are Michael Redgrave, Richard Attenborough, Peter Ustinov, Stanley Holloway, Michael Dennison, the great Dennis Price, the beautiful Glynnis Johns and her father Mervyn Johns, the eccentric Joyce Grenfell, the wonderful Margeret Rutherford, and a host of others too long to mention. The most famous cameo is by Sir Laurence Olivier, as the astonished policeman who witnesses Friese-Greene's first triumph, the projection of moving images of Hyde Park on an improvised sheet screen. This is the most remembered scene of the film, and Friese Greene's excitement at this event reminded me of my own excitement when I first turned the handle on my first Pathescope 9.5mm projector! The film is of great interest to film collectors and movie buffs, containing beautiful shots of old wood and brass magic lanterns and early movie equipment. There are many wonderful scenes, such as the Victorian photo studio where they show customers having to stand absolutely still for 30 seconds to get their photo taken! The film was produced by Roy Boulting, and the beautiful Victorian settings and costumes are sumptuously photographed by Jack Cardiff. My family and friends really enjoyed this movie, it is low key almost like a BBC period drama, but if you are a film collector you will love it. We take the showing of films in our homes for granted these days, and it easy to forget the real struggle by inventors such as Friese- Greene to achieve what seemed impossible at the time. American audiences will of course have to (at least temporarily) suspend their belief that Edison was the sole inventor of the motion picture camera ( in fact Edison was primarily a business man and entrepreneur who copied many of the motion picture concepts developed by Lumiere in France) This film is very rare indeed. I don't think it exists on VHS or DVD,(certainly not in the USA), however Super 8mm film prints do exist, so if you find an S8 print grab it! My particular super 8 print is a 2400 ft Agfa color print, pin sharp with beautiful rich colors and great contrast. The mono magnetic track sound quality is very good for a film of 1951 vintage. Highly recommended, if you can find it.


22 of 23 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
TCM will show Jan. 5, 2009 rcs8
On TCM: Sep 06, 08:00PM 2009 STUPOR
Looking for memorable lines HilcoKlinkert
British DVD plurality-1
Uncredited cameo? jeannash8-1
Williams sons. josephg1-978-562568
Discuss The Magic Box (1951) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?