Edison, the Man was a 1940 biographical film depicting the life of inventor Thomas Edison, who was played by Spencer Tracy. Much of the film's script fictionalizes or exaggerates the real events of Edison's life.
Edison eventually sells an invention to Taggart and Powell for $40,000, enabling him to get married and open his own “invention factory” at Menlo Park. In the next few years, he perfects the phonograph with his devoted staff.
Trouble arises when Bunt brags to reporters that Edison has invented the electric light. Since he hasn't yet, he is condemned by the scientific community (encouraged by Taggart, whose gas stocks are threatened by the announcement). Edison “leaves science behind”, and with a Herculean trial-and-error effort, finally succeeds in inventing a practical electric light. However, his subsequent plans to light New York are again hindered by Taggart, who arranges it so that Edison is only given six months to complete the entire task. However, Edison finishes the job within the time allotted.
Edison’s concern about providing jobs and paychecks for his workers is an anachronism, reflecting the concerns of the Great Depression more than historical reality. According to the book A Streak of Luck by Robert Conot, Edison’s attitude toward workers was typical of industrialists of the time.
An addition to this section is needed. Other than accurate associate names, and accurate motives, is the narrative of the movie within reasonable limits?
“You think you’re nothing but wood and metal and glass. But you’re not: you’re dreams and hard work and heart. You’d better not disappoint us.”
“It’s not the money wrapped up in the laboratory, it’s the lives wrapped up in the laboratory. It’s come to mean everything that I ever set out to do. It means a weekly paycheck for all my men. It means home, shelter, clothing, and food for lots of families.”
“He hasn’t got a darn thing but I like to hear him talk that way.”