7.1/10
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30 user 12 critic

The Magic Box (1951)

A chronicle of the life of William Friese-Greene, a British inventor and early pioneer in cinema.

Director:

John Boulting

Writers:

Ray Allister (based on the biography: "Friese-Greene, Close Up of an Inventor"), Eric Ambler (screenplay)
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Nominated for 2 BAFTA Film Awards. Another 1 win. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Renée Asherson ... Miss Tagg (as Renee Asherson)
Richard Attenborough ... Jack Carter
Robert Beatty ... Lord Beaverbrook
Martin Boddey ... Sitter in Bath Studio
Edward Chapman ... Father in Family Group
John Charlesworth John Charlesworth ... Graham Friese-Greene
Maurice Colbourne ... Bride's Father in Wedding Group
Roland Culver ... 1st Company Promoter
John Howard Davies John Howard Davies ... Maurice Friese-Greene
Michael Denison ... Reporter
Robert Donat ... William Friese-Greene
Joan Dowling Joan Dowling ... Maggie
Henry Edwards ... Butler at Fox Talbot's
Mary Ellis ... Mrs. Nell Collings
Marjorie Fielding Marjorie Fielding ... Elderly Viscountess
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Storyline

Now old, ill, poor, and largely forgotten, William Freise-Greene was once very different. As young and handsome William Green he changed his name to include his first wife's so that it sounded more impressive for the photographic portrait work he was so good at. But he was also an inventor and his search for a way to project moving pictures became an obsession that ultimately changed the life of all those he loved. Written by Jeremy Perkins <jwp@aber.ac.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A fabulous cast of 60 STARS See more »

Genres:

Biography | Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

21 January 1952 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

A Caixa Mágica See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Festival Film Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (DVD) | (edited) | (TV)

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Color:

Color (Colour by) (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

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

Trivia

In the 2010 documentary, Embracing Chaos: Making The African Queen, Jack Cardiff states that personnel on The Magic Box agreed to work for reduced salaries in exchange for a percentage of profits. Because he made no money on this Cardiff declined a similar deal from Sam Spiegel on The African Queen which he regretted as it would have made him very wealthy. See more »

Goofs

In 1915 when Green's three eldest sons join the army, the landlord's agent mentions that the Spanish influenza is going around. In actuality the Spanish influenza did not begin until 1918. See more »

Quotes

William Fox-Talbot: The original thinker - the innovator - mustn't mind seeming a little foolish to his contemporaries. He must always look to his star... In the end, he may still fail. That's unimportant. If he is true to himself, he won't be too unhappy or embittered, even in failure, and will still speak for what is good.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: WILLIAM FRIESE-GREENE 1855 1921 followed by the year 1921 See more »

Connections

Referenced in London Entertains (1951) See more »

Soundtracks

Let the Great Big World Keep Turning
(1917) (uncredited)
Written by Nat Ayer and Clifford Grey
See more »

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User Reviews

A biography of one of the true first inventors of the cinema.
30 March 1999 | by David3-DSee all my reviews

A brilliant biography of one of the virtually unknown inventors of modern motion pictures. The historical aspects are incredibly well researched and detailed (look at the film credits)-- down to the reproduction of a beautiful example of his first twin-lensed motion picture camera, which was stereoscopic (which proved not be be practical until the introduction of polarized projection at the 1939 World's Fair). This film was made as a showcase piece for the 1951 "Festival of Britain" at the current location of the Royal Festival Hall and the Museum of the Moving Image on the banks of the Thames in London, England. What remains of the original Friese-Greene camera may be seen at the Science Museum in London. For those interested in the history of the cinema, and its earliest experiments, this is a "must see" film. Historical footage is brilliantly incorporated into the story. Although the presentation is a little bit slow by today's standards, it remains a fascinating and unique film. For related topics see the book "The Missing Reel", by Christopher Rawlence, about the other unknown film pioneer, Louis Aime Augustin Le Prince.


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