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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?


"Lux Radio Theater" broadcast a 60 minute radio adaptation of the movie on December 23, 1940 with Mickey Rooney and Virginia Weidler reprising their film roles. 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 »


Followed by Edison, the Man (1940) See more »


Sweet Genevieve
Written by George Cooper and Henry Tucker
Played by Fay Bainter on the organ
Sung by Virginia Weidler, Mickey Rooney and George Bancroft
Variations played throughout as part of the score
See more »

User Reviews

Well, the joke's on me...
17 April 2010 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

In this film, Mickey Rooney very capably plays the title role. His energy, very good acting and 'aw, shucks' attitude worked well in this film. That combined with the usual MGM polish and writing made this an enjoyable movie. As for this interpretation of Edison, he's a combination of Jimmy Neutron (or Dexter) and a Horatio Alger character--full of schemes to earn a buck as well as an abiding love of science.

When I watch biopics from Hollywood's golden age of the 1930s-1940s, I always assume that the truth took a back seat to entertainment and drama. More often then not, the facts have been 'adjusted' to make a more enjoyable film--regardless if it strays pretty far from the truth. So, as I watched "Young Tom Edison", I naturally assumed it was once again a very highly fictionalized account. This seemed even more obvious when Tom jumps onto the train tracks to save a little boy's life. However, imagine my surprise when I did some reading and found this film was actually pretty close to the truth! Sure, they took a few liberties here and there, but for the most part it was real. Sometimes the truth really is stranger than fiction! Overall, it's quite enjoyable and a nice companion piece to MGM's other Edison film that came out the same year, "Edison, the Man"--which shows the adult life of the great inventor.

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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 »

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