15 user 4 critic

Young Tom Edison (1940)

Approved | | Biography, Drama | 15 March 1940 (USA)
Inventor Thomas Edison's boyhood is chronicled and shows him as a lad whose early inventions and scientific experiments usually end up causing disastrous results. As a result, the towns ... See full summary »


Norman Taurog


Bradbury Foote (original screenplay), Dore Schary (original screenplay) | 2 more credits »




Complete credited cast:
Mickey Rooney ... Thomas Alva 'Tom' Edison
Fay Bainter ... Mrs. Samuel 'Nancy' Edison
George Bancroft ... Samuel 'Sam' Edison
Virginia Weidler ... Tannie Edison
Eugene Pallette ... Mr. Nelson
Victor Kilian ... Mr. Dingle
Bobby Jordan ... Joe 'Joey' Dingle (as Bobbie Jordan)
J.M. Kerrigan ... Mr. McCarney
Lloyd Corrigan ... Dr. Pender
John Kellogg ... Bill Edison
Clem Bevans ... Mr. Waddell
Eily Malyon ... Miss Lavina Howard, School Teacher
Harry Shannon ... Army Captain Brackett


Inventor Thomas Edison's boyhood is chronicled and shows him as a lad whose early inventions and scientific experiments usually end up causing disastrous results. As a result, the towns folk all think Tom is crazy, and creating a strained relationship between Tom and his father. Toms only solace is his understanding mother who believes he's headed to do great things. Written by Daniel Bubbeo <dbubbeo@cmp.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Biography | Drama


Approved | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


This film's earliest documented telecast took place in Phoenix Thursday 2 May 1957 on KPHO (Channel 5); it first aired in Philadelphia 22 June 1957 on WFIL (Channel 6), in New Haven CT 2 July 1957 on WNHC (Channel 8), in Altoona PA 16 July 1957 on WFBG (Channel 10), in Honolulu 21 July 1957 on KHVH (Channel 13), in Lebanon PA 30 July 1957 on WLBR (Channel 15), in Portland OR 16 August 1957 on KGW (Channel 8), in Salt Lake City 19 August 1957 on KTVT (Channel 4), in Hartford CT 23 August 1957 on WHCT (Channel 18), in Miami 14 October 1957 on WCKT (Channel 7), in Nashville 18 October 1957 on WLAC (Channel 5), in Odessa TX 3 November 1957 on KOSA (Channel 7), in Windsor ON (serving Detroit) 6 November 1957 on CKLW (Channel 9), in Spokane 29 November 1957 on KHQ (Channel 6), in Fresno CA 30 November 1957 on KMJ (Channel 24), in Seattle 23 December 1957 on KING (Channel 5), in Chicago 15 January 1958 on WBBM (Channel 2), in New York City 11 February 1958 on WCBS (Channel 2), in San Francisco 19 April 1958 on KGO (Channel 7), and, finally, in Los Angeles 1 July 1958 on KTTV (Channel 11). See more »


When young Tom jumps on the train to sell his maple candy, he tells the first customer the price is "a nickel". The scene takes place in the late 1850s. The first US nickel five cent coin wasn't issued until 1866. (At the time, the only 5¢ coin was a half-dime, a tiny silver coin but not called "a nickel".) See more »


Joe 'Joey' Dingle: You said you had some gas that'd make me fly. Show me.
See more »

Crazy Credits

After "The End" title page, a portrait of Tom Edison is displayed and, after some of the inventor's many accomplishments are noted, then the camera pans back to show Spencer Tracy admiring the painting while the narrator announces the forthcoming "Edison, The Man (1940)" biography (featuring Tracy in the title role). See more »

Alternate Versions

Also available in a computer-colorized version. See more »


Jingle bells
Written by James Pierpont (as J.S. Pierpont) (1857)
Played as part of the score at Christmas
See more »

User Reviews

"You're not only addled, you're tetched."
15 November 2014 | by utgard14See all my reviews

Mickey Rooney stars as the teenaged Thomas Edison in this wonderfully entertaining MGM biopic. The movie covers the young inventor's struggles to fit in with a town full of people who don't understand him. He makes mistakes but proves his worth and ultimately becomes a hero.

Rooney is his usual likable self. He tones his high energy down some and shows his dramatic skills. He really was a phenomenal star and a great actor. Superb supporting cast includes Fay Bainter and George Bancroft as Edison's parents, Virginia Weidler as his sister, and Eugene Palette as a railroad conductor. I really like the MGM sets and the 19th century American style. Lovely music, pleasant tone, and good cast. Script is a nice mix of humor, drama, and action.

This is the first of two MGM biopics of Edison released in 1940. The other is Edison, the Man starring Spencer Tracy. That movie covers Edison's adult years so it's like a sequel to this picture. Both are excellent. These old biopics were usually solid, uplifting character-driven stories. Yes they take liberties with the details but the more cynical defamatory biopics we get these days do the same. I'll take an inspirational biography that builds people up and leaves you with the warm fuzzies over some deconstructionist tabloid trash any day.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 15 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.






Release Date:

15 March 1940 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Der junge Edison See more »

Filming Locations:

California, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed