Review: ‘Edison, the Man’

; Editor ison, The Man is a sequel to Young Tom ed ison (Mickey Rooney). The sequel takes up with Edison after he has gone to New York to pursue his vocation as an inventor.

; Editor ison, The Man is a sequel to Young Tom ed ison (Mickey Rooney). The sequel takes up with Edison after he has gone to New York to pursue his vocation as an inventor.

Action opens on the Golden Jubilee of Light banquet held in 1929, at which the now aged Edison is guest of honor. As he is being eulogized for his contributions as an inventor, the story goes back to his early manhood, his heartaches, his ambitions, the romance that came into his life and the drama as well as lighter moments that figured in an amazing career. After Edison has brought forth the incandescent bulb after heroic struggles, followed by montage shots reviewing the achievements of the Wizard of Menlo Park, the action flashes back to the banquet.

Here, Spencer Tracy as an old, but benevolent Edison, makes his speech. It dwells largely on the march that science has made, emphasized by the fact that much that man has created for the benefit of mankind also possesses the ability to turn into monsters.

As a young man, Tracy progresses through the years in a forceful characterization of the noted inventor. Early portions are strong in romantic interest, but after Tracy has married the pretty Rita Johnson, two children being born, his home life is somewhat subjugated to the inventor’s work in his laboratory, his financial troubles, the extreme loyalty of his workers, etc, although ostensibly he is a home-loving man.

Though going over his invention of the stock ticker, the phonograph and other things, the greatest stress [of the story by Hugo Butler and Dore Schary] is laid on the circumstances surrounding Edison’s invention of the incandescent lamp. Dramatic interest is drawn largely from the months of toil and discouragement that precede the discovery of the light, topped by Edison’s success in getting the franchise to illuminate New York by electricity. Scene when the dynamos go wild, like monsters out of control, is one of the highlights, and well done.

1940: Nomination: Best Original Story

Edison, the Man


M-G-M. Director Clarence Brown; Producer John W. Considine Jr.; Screenplay Talbot Jennings, Bradbury Foote; Camera Harold Rosson; Editor Fredrick Y. Smith; Music Herbert Stothart; Art Director Cedric Gibbons, John S. Detlie


(B&W) Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1940. Running time: 104 MIN.


Spencer Tracy Rita Johnson Lynne Overman Charles Coburn Gene Lockhart Henry Travers
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