Edison, the Man (1940) - Rotten Tomatoes

Edison, the Man (1940)

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In 1940, MGM turned out two films on the life of Thomas Alva Edison.The first, Young Tom Edison, starred Mickey Rooney and trotted out all the old Edison folklore, including the now-discredited incident in which Tom loses his hearing by being yanked onto a train by his ears. Edison the Man, starring Spencer Tracy in the title role, downplays certain inconvenient facts (including Edison's strong-arm tactics to protect his patents), but adheres more closely to actual events than its predecessor. The story concentrates on Edison's most productive years, from 1872 to 1882 (surprisingly ignoring his role in the development of the motion picture!) The inventions invented herein include the ticker-tape machine, the phonograph, the Dictaphone, and of course the electric light. Gene Lockhart is on hand to once more perform his movie specialty of the blinkered financier who can see no future in Edison's crazy schemes. The film tries to stir up suspense by giving Edison only six months to complete his dream of illuminating the streets of New York, lest he lose the contract--and, by extension, his credibility. While Young Tom Edison had unexpectedly lost money, Edison the Man was a success; as for Spencer Tracy, he was a versatile enough actor to escape the fate of poor Don Ameche, who was forever and inextricably associated with his portrayal of Alexander Graham Bell.

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Cast

Spencer Tracy
as Thomas Alva Edison
Rita Johnson
as Mary Stilwell
Lynne Overman
as Bunt Cavatt
Charles Coburn
as General Powell
Gene Lockhart
as Mr. Taggart
Felix Bressart
as Michael Simon
Frank Faylen
as Galbreath
Byron Foulger
as Edwin Hall
Guy D'Ennery
as Lundstrom
Addison Richards
as Dr. Johnson
Milton Parsons
as Acid Graham
Gene Reynolds
as Jimmy Price
George Meader
as Minister
Charles Waldron
as Commissioner
Milt Kibbee
as Workman
Charles Lane
as Second Lecturer
Irving Bacon
as Sheriff
Emmett Vogan
as Secretary
Tom Mahoney
as Policeman
Ann Gillis
as Nancy Grey
Jay Ward
as John Schofield
George Lessey
as Toastmaster
Paul Hurst
as Sheriff
George Ovey
as Lamplighter
Erville Alderson
as First Lecturer
Roy Cummings
as Footman
Eve Kendall
as Marion Estelle Edison
Michael David Simms
as Thomas Edison Jr.
Walter Fenner
as Man at Banquet
Edward Keane
as Third Lecturer
Edgar Dearing
as Policeman
Cyril Ring
as Reporter
Nick Copeland
as Reporter
Jack Daley
as Broker
Harry Strang
as Minor Role
Billy Boy Arnold
as Minor Role
Thomas Pogue
as Minor Role
Fritzi Brunette
as Minor Role
Helen Dickson
as Minor Role
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Critic Reviews for Edison, the Man

All Critics (5) | Top Critics (1)

Something of a whitewash job, it never begins to suggest the stubborn and sometimes shortsighted side to the inventor's character that led him, for example, first to fail to recognise the potential of his invention of the movie camera and projector.

January 26, 2006 | Full Review…

Spencer Tracy plays the pioneering scientist in this decent but routine MGM biopic, directed by Clarence Brown

April 13, 2012 | Rating: B- | Full Review…

Biography depicts famous inventor as smart, curious hero.

December 24, 2010 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Standard biopic.

December 18, 2007 | Rating: B- | Full Review…

Grade A MGM biography with strong Tracy as Thomas Edison.

April 30, 2007 | Rating: 5/5

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