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Born in Freedom: The Story of Colonel Drake (1954)

In 1857 Edwin L. Drake is sent to investigate an oil seep in a creek near Titusville, Pennsylvania. After conferring with Dr. Brewer (the land owner) and Joel D. Angier (who devised a ... See full summary »




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Cast overview:
Colonel Edwin L. Drake
Uncle Billy Smith
Crew Foreman
James M. Townsend
Doctor Brewer
Joel D. Angier
George Henry Bissell
Hotel Desk Clerk
William 'Bill' Phillips ...
Sam Brown
Salt Driller
Man on Horseback


In 1857 Edwin L. Drake is sent to investigate an oil seep in a creek near Titusville, Pennsylvania. After conferring with Dr. Brewer (the land owner) and Joel D. Angier (who devised a method of collecting oil using baffles), Drake reports back to James M. Townsend (Pennsylvania Rock Oil Company, New Haven, Conn.) that it should be feasible to increase the yield beyond the 3 to 6 gallons a day Angier has obtained. Put in charge, and addressed by the courtesy title of "Colonel" by the company, Drake first tries to dig down to the source of the oil and is heckled for his efforts. Water entry causes failure, as it does to Drake's first attempts to drill to the oil with Billy Smith ("Uncle Billy"), an experienced salt driller. Overcoming many other obstacles, Drake's innovation to shield the well from water entry by using a drive pipe finally allows drilling to proceed until striking oil in August, 1859. His perseverance yields many barrels of oil a day, and immediately brings about the ... Written by Brian Greenhalgh

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Drama | Short





Release Date:

29 March 1954 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Story of Colonel Drake  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)


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Did You Know?


The first color program showed on the DuMont television network. See more »


Joel D. Angier: I don't care what you think, mister. There's no way to increase that oil. I've tried every way there is and most of it still gets away. SO I'm telling ya, there just ain't no way.
Colonel Edwin L. Drake: I think it is possible.
Joel D. Angier: To increase the quantity of the oil?
Doctor Brewer: And collect enough to make it commercially practical?
Colonel Edwin L. Drake: Yes. It may take time. But a way can, and will be, found.
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User Reviews

The Possibilities Of Petroleum
27 May 2011 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

This short subject produced by the American Petroleum Industry shows just how the oil industry got started in the small northwest Pennsylvania town of Titusville. A number of name Hollywood players participated in this short subject chief among them Vincent Price who played Edwin L. Drake who drilled the first oil well there.

The possibilities of petroleum were known and suspected for years, it was a question of getting it out of the ground. Previous to this the stuff would occasionally ooze to the surface, usually in some land that someone was trying to farm and ruin things. We know about that, most recently in the Gulf Of Mexico.

America was going on wheels during the Eisenhower Fifties in fact Ike's main domestic program was the creation of the US Highway system, influenced by what he saw with autobahn in Germany. We started to need gasoline in huge quantities. The appetite has gone unabated since.

This short was the oil industry doing a slick piece of public relations and it is a well produced film. Why not, they could afford it.

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