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The Story of Alexander Graham Bell (1939)

Approved | | Biography, Drama, History | 14 April 1939 (USA)
The story of how Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
... Alexander Graham Bell
... Mrs. Mabel Hubbard Bell
... Thomas Watson
... Gardner Hubbard
... Thomas Sanders
... Mrs. Hubbard
... Gertrude Hubbard
... Grace Hubbard
... Berta Hubbard
... George Sanders
... Mr. Barrows
... Chauncey Smith
... President of Western Union
... Judge Rider
... Queen Victoria
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Storyline

Alexander Graham Bell falls in love with deaf girl Mabel Hubbard while teaching the deaf and trying to invent means for telegraphing the human voice. She urges him to put off thoughts of marriage until his experiments are complete. He invents the telephone, marries and becomes rich and famous, though his happiness is threatened when a rival company sets out to ruin him. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

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Darryl F. Zanuck's Entertainment gem will take its place in the Hall of Fame ! See more »


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Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

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Release Date:

14 April 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Alexander Graham Bell  »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,500,000 (estimated)
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Only film featuring all four of the "Young" sisters: Loretta Young, Sally Blane, Polly Ann Young and Georgiana Young. See more »

Goofs

Bell said, that he sent the first time a sound through a wire, in the 1870s. The actual first sound through a wire was made by Philipp Reis in 1862. See more »

Quotes

Alexander Graham Bell: Shall the lonely scientist, the man who dreams, and out of his dreams benefits the world, is he, that often half-starved, lonely little man, to be told the world has no need of him the moment his work is done?
Alexander Graham Bell: Is he to be told that others, less gifted, but stronger, men with money and power behind them, are waiting to take the product of his genius and turn it to their own uses? -leaving him with liar and thief branded on his brow as his only reward? Do that, and you stop the clock of progress....
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Connections

Referenced in Voyagers!: Barriers of Sound (1983) See more »

Soundtracks

The Star Spangled Banner
(1814)
Music by John Stafford Smith
Lyrics by Francis Scott Key
Part of a medley sung by an unidentified trio demonstrating the telephone
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User Reviews

 
Inventing the telephone
2 November 2005 | by See all my reviews

This film has a unique place in movie history. The Story of Alexander Graham Bell not only gave Don Ameche his signature role, but Ameche's very name entered the English slang. Still today, a telephone is sometimes referred to as an "ameche."

Bell was a Scottish immigrant who came by way of Canada to the Boston area. At the time the film opens, Don Ameche is a teacher of deaf children. He's also employed as a private tutor to one particular child, Bobs Watson who is Gene Lockhart's son. There scenes have a particular poignancy.

Ameche also woos and wins Loretta Young, a deaf woman who is the son of prominent businessman, Charles Coburn, who later backs him in his scientific work and business ventures.

As you can imagine living in a world with a whole lot of silent people and a natural scientific bent made him curious about sound. In inventing the telephone, Bell sought to break the sound barrier which was then limited by how loud the loudest person could shout.

The famous scene with assistant Henry Fonda when Bell's own voice goes over a wire for the first time is there. And his later patent struggles are also well documented.

But it is Don Ameche's sincere and straightforward interpretation of Alexander Graham Bell that makes this film memorable. And he's matched every step of the way by Loretta Young as his wife. Ms. Young by the way got to be in this film with all three of her sisters, playing her sisters, a rare treat.

Given Bell's lifelong interest in the deaf, I'm sure that today with the invention of TTY lines to help deaf people communicate by phone, he'd be doubly proud of what he had accomplished.

A good film and a great tribute to a great scientific and humanitarian individual.


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