When Metro originally planned to produce the biography of Thomas A. Edison, intention was to combine his boyhood and manhood in the one picture. But research provided so much material that two productions are necessary to adequately cover the life of the wizard of Menlo Park. Young Tom ed ison covers the inventor’s life as a boy in Port Huron, Michigan, around 1863. It details his inquisitiveness on chemicals and labor-saving gadgets, and his disregard for school curriculum and rules.
Splitup of the life of Edison into two parts marks the first time that such a procedure has been followed by any company. ed ison, The Man, with Spencer Tracy starred as the inventor in his years of real accomplishment, is the second part [released three months later].
Story points up the courage and eventual triumph of a typical American youth. No attempt is made to paint him as a youthful genius. He’s an all-American boy; an inventive opportunist.
Picture is rich in youthful adventure, and human, homey qualities. Mickey Rooney plays the young inventor with sympathetic restraint. There are no obvious stunts or gags; no overplaying of the dreamy, though deeply serious boy who is laying the foundation for his later achievements.
Story revolves around the home life of the Edison family. There’s the lovable and protecting mother (Fay Bainter), the stern father (George Bancroft) who fails to understand his son, and a younger sister (Virginia Weidler) continually sympathetic to her brother and his problems.