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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:

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

In real life Bell's wife was a deaf mute, but the studio only would allow Loretta Young as a deaf person. This bothered Miss Young so much that she decided not to renew her Fox contract and instead freelance. 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

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

Yankee Doodle
Music traditional - English origin (ca. 1755)
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 bkoganbingSee 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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