Best Movies by Farr
Edison, The Man Poster
Released Runtime Category
1940 107 Drama, Warner Archive
Director Language
Clarence Brown English
Spencer Tracy, Rita Johnson, Felix Bressart

Edison, The Man

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What's it About

This biopic of the great inventor begins with his arrival in New York City as a promising young scientist, and concludes with the inauguration of the incandescent light bulb in a dramatic live test in Manhattan. We see the highly ambitious Edison (Tracy) struggling to get established at the beginning of his career, his marriage to Mary Stilwell (Johnson), the establishment of his Menlo Park laboratory, the invention of the Dictaphone, and more. The film's longest segment is devoted to Edison's endless, painfully public struggle to harness electricity for the creation of better, safer illumination.

Why we love it

Tracy gives one of his warmest performances in this engaging, entertaining look at the legendary tinkerer's outsize life and career. Not surprisingly, the film mainly focuses on the great man's work, and builds considerable suspense around his most ambitious and far-reaching effort: the search for the key to electric light. Actor Tracy, who both revered and resembled Edison, was really behind this picture, and genuinely puzzled when it didn't receive more Oscar nominations (it earned just one, for original story). Viewing it today, so are we. Watch this underrated movie, and see the light.

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BEST MOVIES BY FARR is your personal guide to great movies to rent, stream, or buy; to watch at home or on-the-go. Led by film advocate John Farr, the Best Movies by Farr team works as a "quality filter" for the discerning moviegoer. Every day, we bring you the best of the best, the fantastic familiar films and hidden gems, to answer that age-old question: "What should we watch tonight?"