New York City, 1931.
Movie producer Jack Maloney has just completed a labor
of love: his documentary on the life of the great
inventor Thomas Alva Edison. Jack wants his wife,
actress Kate Cruthers, to take a look. What results is
an engaging, Emmy Award-winning family drama about the 1
percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration required
to build an impassioned life. As Jack's "documentary"
clicks along, we learn that he met Edison (played with
great sincerity by Kenneth Welsh) while fleeing from St.
Patrick's Orphanage in 1893. Chased by truancy officers,
the then-12-year-old boy (actor Michael Suchanek) ran
smack into Edison's New Jersey lab, winning Edison's
affections and landing a long-term apprentice job.
Believable conversations between mentor and student
about education, life, and the invention of Edison's
light bulb and phonograph are dotted with many
recognizable, timely quotations.
As the film follows their
35-year relationship, viewers see how Edison dedicated
his life to "the betterment of mankind" and sacrificed
time with his family as a result. The unspoken
father-son bond between the two men--stronger than
Edison's relationship with his own wife and
children--comes to a head as the adult Jack (Jesse
Collins) challenges Edison's tenacity. Reconciliation
and a deeper empathy for each other's choices caps off
this nicely paced, beautifully filmed and scored
presentation. A well-spent hour for families with
children over 6 years old or for elementary school
students studying American inventors.
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