Alexander Graham Bell invents the telephone. Biographical. Credits for [ The Story of Alexander Graham Bell credits: Dir: Irving Cummings/ Don Ameche, Loretta Young, Henry Fonda/ 97 min/ Drama, Biography/ Creator as Hero]
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As depicted in this film, Bell was a very busy man. He taught the mute to talk, improved the telegraph, invented the telephone, and even worked on human flight. Bell did all those things and more. By the end of his life, he had or shared in fourteen patents for the telegraph and telephone and sixteen more for other devices including hydro-airplanes.
Born into a family of experts on speech, Bell had a lifelong scientific interest in sound and hearing. His discoveries in this area are the main focus here. Right from the beginning of this film, we see a very industrious Bell. By day he teaches the deaf to talk, and by night he works on a new type of telegraph. Income from the former pays for the latter. As an offshoot of his telegraph research, Bell gets an idea for a way of transmitting speech by wire — that is, the telephone.
Together with Thomas A. Watson, and after long hours of dogged trial and error experimenting, Bell develops and patents the telephone and begins manufacturing it. Just then, the Western Union Company starts producing a similar device in violation of Bell’s patent. He sues. During the course of the trial, Bell makes a terrific speech on the importance of respecting private property, particularly intellectual property like patents. Says Bell: “The issue is simply this: shall the lonely scientist, the man who dreams, and out of his dreams benefits the world, is he, that often half-starved lonely little man, to be told the world has no need of him the moment his work is done? Is he to be told that others — less gifted but stronger, men with money and power behind them — are waiting to take the product of his genius and turn it to their own uses? Do that and you stop the clock of progress; you smother the spirit of genius that lies hidden here and there throughout the world. Do that and the world stands still.”
With the help of that moving speech and the introduction of some last minute evidence, of course Bell wins the trial. The Story of Alexander Graham Bell is a great creator-as-hero story that does justice to Bell’s achievements and to the struggle he went through to bring his inventions to life. The telling of all this is in the classic, 1930s style, with all the quality touches you would expect of the period. Don Ameche makes a likable Bell, and Loretta Young is a charming love interest. This is a very inspiring film.