7.1/10
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23 user 10 critic

Edison, the Man (1940)

82 year old inventor and entrepreneur Thomas Alva Edison is honored in 1929 and he reflects back on his sixty year career of scientific achievement.

Director:

Clarence Brown

Writers:

Talbot Jennings (screen play), Bradbury Foote (screen play) | 2 more credits »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Spencer Tracy ... Thomas A. Edison
Rita Johnson ... Mary Stilwell
Lynne Overman ... Bunt Cavatt
Charles Coburn ... General Powell
Gene Lockhart ... Mr. Taggart
Henry Travers ... Ben Els
Felix Bressart ... Michael Simon
Peter Godfrey ... Ashton
Guy D'Ennery ... Lundstrom
Byron Foulger ... Edwin Hall
Milton Parsons ... 'Acid' Graham
Arthur Aylesworth ... Jack Bigelow
Gene Reynolds ... Jimmy Price
Addison Richards ... Mr. Johnson
Grant Mitchell ... Snade
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Storyline

Hoored at a banquet for his sixty year career as an inventor, scientist, and businessman, 89 year old Thomas Alva Edison reflects back on his long career, which includes such achievements as the stock market ticker, the phonograph, the light bulb, and the motion picture. Written by duke1029@aol.com

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Biography | Drama

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

10 May 1940 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Edison, el hombre See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

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

Trivia

This was one of the films that Spencer Tracy really believed in and actively supported not because he starred in it, but because he was a great admirer of Thomas A. Edison. This was unusual as Tracy was known throughout most of his career to disparage his own gifts as well as the importance of motion pictures. Also, prior to this film Spencer Tracy had been a very active member of the "Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences". He even hosted the awards show on at least one occasion. However when the nominations came out for the best films of 1940, Tracy was appalled that "Edison the Man" was so overlooked in the nominations. It was only nominated for best writing. Tracy swore he would never attend another academy award ceremony again. He never did. Not without irony is that although he was nominated another 6 times over the next 28 years, Tracy never won another Oscar after that after winning two in a row in the previous two years. See more »

Goofs

The montage sequence depicting Edison's inventions lists "electric power transmission" over a shot of a massive transmission line and the tower that holds it up. That technology was actually developed not by Thomas A. Edison but by Nikola Tesla. (Tesla held over 700 patents, including Radio. Guglielmo Marconi stole the radio patent from Tesla. The US Patent office has since revoked Marconi's claim, giving it to Tesla.) Edison insisted on powering his lights with direct current, which could only travel short distances from the generators that produced it. Tesla used alternating current, which could be run through transformers to increase its voltage so it could be moved over long distances, then reduced in voltage again for home use. Tesla's alternating current, not Edison's direct current, quickly became the standard and is what we use today. See more »

Quotes

Thomas A. Edison: [to the Gold Exchange clerk, who once told him he'd have to wait until next Christmas to see Mr. Taggart, before Edison fixed the gold ticker and got an appointment with Taggart:] Merry Christmas.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The opening credits appear as 19th Century sampler embroideries. See more »

Connections

Featured in Servant of Mankind (1940) See more »

Soundtracks

Oh, Promise Me
(1887) (uncredited)
Music by Reginald De Koven
Lyrics by Clement W. Scott
Played at wedding.
See more »

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User Reviews

 
beautifully executed, but historically inaccurate
22 February 2006 | by roofusdcSee all my reviews

Edison in this version comes across as a kindly soul, sort of "Santa the inventor" -- kind to one and all.

Don't look for historical accuracy of any kind in this film. Although the acting is nicely done. Spencer Tracy is a constant delight. He even gets to play the organ in one scene! Tracy and Co.'s contributions rate it a six, but it certainly doesn't deserve anything more.

I especially loved the one-handed Morse-code tapping Edison. One doesn't need to know much about Edison to realize pretty quickly that this is sheer hagiography.

There is even a court room scene between gas and electrical lighting. Pretty fun.


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