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Born in Freedom: The Story of Colonel Drake (1954)

In 1857 Edwin L. Drake is sent to investigate an oil seep in a creek near Titusville, Pennsylvania. After conferring with Dr. Brewer (the land owner) and Joel D. Angier (who devised a ... See full summary »


Arthur Pierson


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Cast overview:
Vincent Price ... Colonel Edwin L. Drake
Andy Clyde ... Uncle Billy Smith
Alan Hale Jr. ... Crew Foreman
Thurston Hall ... James M. Townsend
Lloyd Corrigan ... Doctor Brewer
Will Wright ... Joel D. Angier
Keith Richards ... George Henry Bissell
Al Bridge ... Hotel Desk Clerk
William 'Bill' Phillips ... Sam Brown
William Haade ... Salt Driller
Jack Ingram ... Man on Horseback
Frank Hagney ... Farmer


In 1857 Edwin L. Drake is sent to investigate an oil seep in a creek near Titusville, Pennsylvania. After conferring with Dr. Brewer (the land owner) and Joel D. Angier (who devised a method of collecting oil using baffles), Drake reports back to James M. Townsend (Pennsylvania Rock Oil Company, New Haven, Conn.) that it should be feasible to increase the yield beyond the 3 to 6 gallons a day Angier has obtained. Put in charge, and addressed by the courtesy title of "Colonel" by the company, Drake first tries to dig down to the source of the oil and is heckled for his efforts. Water entry causes failure, as it does to Drake's first attempts to drill to the oil with Billy Smith ("Uncle Billy"), an experienced salt driller. Overcoming many other obstacles, Drake's innovation to shield the well from water entry by using a drive pipe finally allows drilling to proceed until striking oil in August, 1859. His perseverance yields many barrels of oil a day, and immediately brings about the ... Written by Brian Greenhalgh

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Drama | Short


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Joel D. Angier: I don't care what you think, mister. There's no way to increase that oil. I've tried every way there is and most of it still gets away. SO I'm telling ya, there just ain't no way.
Colonel Edwin L. Drake: I think it is possible.
Joel D. Angier: To increase the quantity of the oil?
Doctor Brewer: And collect enough to make it commercially practical?
Colonel Edwin L. Drake: Yes. It may take time. But a way can, and will be, found.
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User Reviews

The film is a dramatization of Col. Edwin Drake's discovery of oil in Titusville, Pennsylvania in 1859
16 February 2007 | by dakelmanmSee all my reviews

The film has a copyright date of 1954 and it was produced for the American Petroleum Council and was distributed free of charge to schools and community groups. I acquired a retired print in 1974 and occasionally one pops up on ebay.

The character of Uncle Billy was played by Andy Clyde. Alan Hale, Jr. played one of the hired hands hired by Drake, and is almost drowned as water escapes into a hole that the diggers were excavating to find the oil.

In as much the film is accurate to the story, it was filmed, I am told, in California and not in Pennsylvania. The film was an incentive for me to visit the Drake Museum site a number of years ago.

The film was a true Hollywood production with no expense spared. Using an original musical score, Technicolor, the film still holds an audience's attention and is an outstanding production in the industrial film genre.

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Release Date:

29 March 1954 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Story of Colonel Drake See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Film Counselors See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

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