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The Magic Box (1951)

Approved | | Biography, Drama | 21 January 1952 (UK)
A chronicle of the life of William Friese-Greene, a British inventor and early pioneer in cinema.

Director:

John Boulting

Writers:

Ray Allister (based on the biography: "Friese-Greene, Close Up of an Inventor"), Eric Ambler (screenplay)
Reviews
Nominated for 2 BAFTA Film Awards. Another 1 win. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Renée Asherson ... Miss Tagg (as Renee Asherson)
Richard Attenborough ... Jack Carter
Robert Beatty ... Lord Beaverbrook
Martin Boddey ... Sitter in Bath Studio
Edward Chapman ... Father in Family Group
John Charlesworth John Charlesworth ... Graham Friese-Greene
Maurice Colbourne ... Bride's Father in Wedding Group
Roland Culver ... 1st Company Promoter
John Howard Davies ... Maurice Friese-Greene
Michael Denison ... Reporter
Robert Donat ... William Friese-Greene
Joan Dowling Joan Dowling ... Maggie
Henry Edwards ... Butler at Fox Talbot's
Mary Ellis ... Mrs. Nell Collings
Marjorie Fielding Marjorie Fielding ... Elderly Viscountess
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Storyline

Now old, ill, poor, and largely forgotten, William Freise-Greene (Robert Donat) was once very different. As young and handsome William Green he changed his name to include his first wife's so that it sounded more impressive for the photographic portrait work at which he was so good. But he was also an inventor and his search for a way to project moving pictures became an obsession that ultimately changed the life of all those he loved. Written by Jeremy Perkins {J-26}

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A rich and deeply moving story of a man whose achievement opened up a new world, and of the two women whose love and sacrifices made it possible! See more »

Genres:

Biography | Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

21 January 1952 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

The Magic Box See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (DVD) | (edited) | (TV)

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Color:

Color (Colour by) (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The camera used by William (Robert Donat) in Hyde Park has two lenses, but the reason for the second lens is never explained. It's actually a stereoscopic camera on which William shot some pioneering 3-D footage, but this is also never mentioned. See more »

Goofs

The middle-aged Friese-Greene is shown meeting William Fox-Talbot, who actually died when the former was only 22. See more »

Quotes

William Fox-Talbot: The original thinker - the innovator - mustn't mind seeming a little foolish to his contemporaries. He must always look to his star... In the end, he may still fail. That's unimportant. If he is true to himself, he won't be too unhappy or embittered, even in failure, and will still speak for what is good.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits superimposed over tablets bearing the following inscriptions: THOMAS ALVA EDISON 1847 - 1931 THE INVENTOR OF MOTION PICTURES / ETIENNE-JULES MAREY 1830 - 1908 FONDATEUR DU CINEMA / LOUIS LE PRINCE 1842 - 1890 L'INVENTEUR DE LA CINEMATOGRAPHIE LOUIS LUMIERE 1864 - 1948 AVEC SON FRERE LE CREATEUR DU CINEMA MODERNE See more »

Connections

Edited into Kraft Theatre: The Magic Box (1956) See more »

Soundtracks

Let the Great Big World Keep Turning
(1917) (uncredited)
Written by Nat Ayer and Clifford Grey
See more »

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User Reviews

STUNNING picture.
16 February 1999 | by GAverySee all my reviews

A stunning biography of William Friese-Greene, the UK inventor who made important contributions towards the creation of the motion picture, then saw greatness pass him by. Brilliantly written by Eric Ambler, and with beautiful color photog by Jack Cardiff (working in the 3-strip Technicolor process that we see Friese-Greene working towards in the picture!). Robert Donat's performance in the lead is among his best screen work. As this was made on the occasion of Britain's 1951 "Festival of Lights", virtually every British actor of note at the time appears in the picture---but pay particularl attention for Laurence Olivier, as a London "bobby" who is the first to see Friese-Greene's "pictures that move", and for the film's closing line, delivered by Dennis Price.


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