The Magic Box

  • 1951
  • 1 HR 58 MIN
  • NR
  • Biography

Nearly every actor who ever appeared in British movies worked in this feature. Robert Donat plays William Friese-Greene, the pioneer who patented the first motion picture camera. The film shows his beginnings as a photographer's assistant and his days as a society lenser in London, spending all his resources on his new invention (patented two years before...read more

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Nearly every actor who ever appeared in British movies worked in this feature. Robert Donat plays William Friese-Greene, the pioneer who patented the first motion picture camera. The film shows his beginnings as a photographer's assistant and his days as a society lenser in London, spending

all his resources on his new invention (patented two years before Edison's). His first wife (Maria Schell) shares his triumphs while his second wife (Margaret Johnston) shares his failures. In between, viewers are treated to the sight of at least 50 of England's finest actors, all playing tiny

bits. (Laurence Olivier, for example, is quite amusing as a police officer who is an early witness to the moving pictures.) Friese-Greene is hardly remembered now and had already been dead more than 30 years when THE MAGIC BOX was made, but the filmmakers' conviction that his story should be told

convinced all of the actors (who agreed to alphabetical billing) to devote their talents to this good-looking, well-directed film. Donat is excellent, holding his own among the industry's finest.

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