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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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
One of the extras in this movie is a teenage Ronnie Kray (later the infamous London gangster). See more »
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 »
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.
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Robert Donat shines in nice biography of inventor William Friese-Greene...
For all of his dogged determination to succeed, William Friese-Greene never quite established himself firmly in the public's mind as the inventor of the first motion picture camera, THE MAGIC BOX. That honor seems to rest with Thomas Edison. But as the film goes on to suggest, it was "Willie" who developed the first camera similar to what motion picture cameras use today. The film gives credit to Edison and other inventors with Greene as "one of the first pioneers." The story is told slowly, with flashbacks, and captures the time and customs of a bygone era with careful attention to detail. And for added interest, almost every small role is played by one of Britain's most famous actors. Keep an eye out for Margaret Rutherford, Kay Walsh, Joan Hickson, Laurence Olivier, Leo Genn, Eric Portman, Richard Attenborough, Glynis Johns, and others.
Maria Schell, as one of the inventor's wives, wears a perpetual smile or grin on her face which always irritates me--let's face it, she's never been one of my favorite actresses and unfortunately she's in a good many of the scenes. I wish another actress had been cast in the role of his understanding first wife.
It's an interesting story, well told and extremely well acted by most of the cast with Margaret Rutherford standing out as one of the photographer's best customers and Laurence Olivier doing a fine job as the policeman called hurriedly to Donat's laboratory to witness motion pictures taken in Hyde Park and staring at the screen in amazement.
Donat's illness shows in many of the early scenes where he's supposed to be a young man, so that he looks more natural in the age make-up sequences as an older chap. The age make-up makes him resemble Mr. Chips again. I thought the ending was overly sentimental and not the way I would have preferred the story to conclude.
Well worth viewing.
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