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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.

Director:

Irving Cummings

Writers:

Ray Harris (story), Lamar Trotti (screenplay)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Don Ameche ... Alexander Graham Bell
Loretta Young ... Mrs. Mabel Hubbard Bell
Henry Fonda ... Thomas Watson
Charles Coburn ... Gardner Hubbard
Gene Lockhart ... Thomas Sanders
Spring Byington ... Mrs. Hubbard
Sally Blane ... Gertrude Hubbard
Polly Ann Young ... Grace Hubbard
Georgiana Young ... Berta Hubbard
Bobs Watson ... George Sanders
Russell Hicks ... Mr. Barrows
Paul Stanton ... Chauncey Smith
Jonathan Hale ... President of Western Union
Harry Davenport ... Judge Rider
Beryl Mercer ... 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>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

America's most thrilling story! (poster). See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

14 April 1939 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Alexander Graham Bell See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,500,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Jack Kelly's film debut. See more »

Goofs

One of the stories in the movie, that is set in 1873, is that Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone "in his youth". But the first telephone was invented by Antonio Meucci in 1860 and Johann Philipp Reis in 1861, who also called his device "telephone", not Bell as it's stated in the movie. Bell didn't invented THE telephone but A telephone, the Bell-telephone. See more »

Quotes

Mrs. Hubbard: Mr. Watson, please eat something. You must have the appetite of a bird.
Thomas Watson: Yes, Ma'am, a vulture.
See more »


Soundtracks

The First Noel
Traditional 17th century hymn
Sung a cappella by unidentified carollers on Christmas Eve
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Interesting story of the inventor's life...Ameche's signature role...
29 November 2006 | by DoylenfSee all my reviews

Just how factual all the events are in Fox's biographical account of THE STORY OF Alexander GRAHAM BELL, I don't know, but it seems safe to say they have taken the basic outline of his life and embellished it with a series of vignettes that serve to show us how and why he became the inventor of the telephone.

Although this is DON AMECHE's signature role (indeed the invention is often referred to as "The Ameche"), he clearly had better roles in his future. Here he overacts to a tiresome degree under Irving Cummings' direction. On the other hand, there's a considerable amount of underplaying by LORETTA YOUNG and HENRY FONDA in subordinate roles. Young is Ameche's deaf wife and Fonda is his laboratory assistant.

Factual or not, it moves at a slow pace and may not be the kind of biography for everyone, lacking the vigorous style of a story about Jesse James, for example. There's a little too much talk before we get to the crucial scene in the film where Ameche spills acid and calls for help over the wire to Fonda in the next room.

Supporting cast includes GENE LOCKHART, SPRING BYINGTON and CHARLES COBURN (who must have been one of Hollywood's busiest character actors in the '30s and '40s).


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