The Magic Box is a picture of great sincerity and integrity, superbly acted and intelligently directed. Biopic of William Friese-Greene, the British motion picture pioneer, is charged with real life drama.

The Magic Box is a picture of great sincerity and integrity, superbly acted and intelligently directed. Biopic of William Friese-Greene, the British motion picture pioneer, is charged with real life drama.

Eric Ambler’s screenplay is taken from Ray Allister’s biography, Friese-Greene: Close-up of an Inventor. And the script pinpoints all the major triumphs and tragedies in the life of this pioneer, from his youthful beginnings as a photographer’s assistant, to his death in 1921 at a film industry meeting with only the price of a cinema ticket in his pocket.

The selection of Robert Donat as Friese-Greene is an excellent one. Always a polished performer, he brings a new depth of sincerity and understanding to the role. His two wives are portrayed with infinite charm by Maria Schell and Margaret Johnston. Schell, as the ailing girl from Switzerland, shares the inventor’s first and greatest triumph. Johnston shares only his failures.

Many front ranking stars have little more than walk-on bits, and quite a few just make a brief appearance without even dialog. Mention must be made of a fine cameo from Laurence Olivier as a policeman who is the first to see the inventor’s moving picture.

The Magic Box

UK

Production

Festival/ British Lion. Director John Boulting; Producer Ronald Neame; Screenplay Eric Ambler; Camera Jack Cardiff; Editor Richard Best; Music William Alwyn; Art Director T. Hopewell Ash

Crew

(Color) Extract of a review from 1951. Running time: 118 MIN.

With

Robert Donat Margaret Johnston Maria Schell Robert Beatty James Kenney Bernard Miles
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