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The Story of Alexander Graham Bell (1939)

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

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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

Alexander Graham Bell's daughter, Mrs. Gilbert Grosvenor, had official script approval. 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

Alexander Graham Bell: Your honor... Have I committed some offense by starving in an attic? By spending sleepless nights at my work? By being too poor to own a decent scrap of paper, on which to tell her of my love? I have sat here for days and heard myself called liar, thief, fraud and cheat. I've seen my friends humiliated, my invention belittled, just as I have seen my business destroyed by methods which must leave every honest man appalled.
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Connections

Referenced in You Bet Your Life: Episode #8.25 (1958) See more »

Soundtracks

The First Noel
Traditional 17th century hymn
Sung a cappella by unidentified carollers on Christmas Eve
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User Reviews

 
The invention of The Ameche
8 July 2009 | by blanche-2See all my reviews

Don Ameche has the title role in "The Story of Alexander Graham Bell" in this 1939 film starring Henry Fonda, Loretta Young, Charles Coburn, Gene Lockhart, and Spring Byington.

This movie was a big hit - it must have been, because in 1941's "Ball of Fire," Barbara Stanwyck teaches Gary Cooper slang and refers to the telephone as "the Ameche," as others have mentioned here. As far as how accurate the story is - for Fox, not bad at all. The background of Bell's teaching experience and family history of working with speech and sound is correct, he did have a demonstration of his new device, he did have patent problems, he did take on the little boy and Mabel as deaf clients to teach, he did teach finger-spelling, he did have patent problems, he did marry Mabel, their first child was a girl, and Mabel's father was one of his investors. The Fonda character, Watson, was also real, though Bell had two other assistants, and the scene where Bell finds out the telephone works when he calls for Watson is accurate. Also, Bell mentions a great interest in aeronautics in the movie - he indeed did a lot of work in aeronautics later on.

Don Ameche does a great job as Bell. Before Tyrone Power appeared at 20th Century Fox, Ameche was set for many more lead roles; Power's popularity pushed him into second leads. If Ameche seems melodramatic in the courtroom scenes, that was the style of the day. He gives a serious, intense, and sincere performance. It's probably the role for which he's best remembered. Henry Fonda is wonderful - he's funny and relaxed, positively excellent. In another year, he'd be starring in his own movies. Loretta Young as Mabel is believable as well as lovely, and her sisters in real life -- Sally Blane, Polly Young, and Georgiana Young - play her sisters here.

Gene Lockhart as Sanders is another standout in a poignant performance as a man who wants his deaf son to be able to speak. Charles Coburn plays Mable's no-nonsense, gruff father very well.

Considering that the movie "Suez" is fiction from beginning to end, 20th Century Fox is to be commended for bringing so much real history into this film and making it so entertaining.


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