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The Magic Box (1952)

aka The Magic Box

"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!"

Written By: 
Details: 118 mins · English


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Small William Friese-Greene
No_movie_poster Edith Harrison Friese-Greene
Small Helena Friese-Greene
Small Jack Carter
Small Lord Beaverbrook
Small Miss Tagg
No_movie_poster Sitter in Bath Studio
Small Father in Family Group
No_movie_poster Graham Friese-Greene
No_movie_poster Bride's Father in wedding group
Small 1st Company Promoter
No_movie_poster Maurice Friese-Greene
Small Reporter
Small Maggie


No_movie_poster John Boulting Director
No_movie_poster Roy Boulting Director
Small Ronald Neame Production
Small Eric Ambler Writer
No_movie_poster Richard Best Editing


"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!"


In 1921, William Friese-Greene, in dire financial straits and separated from his wife, but still working, attends a film conference in London. He is saddened that all the attenders are businessmen interested only to money-making. He attempts to speak but no-one is interested and he sits down. He thinks back to his early pioneering days.

Young 'Willie' works as an assistant to photographer Maurice Guttenberg who will not let him take portraits his way. He leaves and with his new wife, a client of his former employer, opens a studio. After a slow start, he does well and opens other studios. But he is more interested in developing moving pictures and colour films. He single-mindedly works on his ideas, spending more and more money and is eventually declared bankrupt. With the coming of World War 1, their sons (one under age) enlist in the army to relieve their parents of the burden.

In partnership with a businessman, he develops his ideas, but the partnership sours and he's on his own - bankrupt again. Nevertheless, he perseveres and late one night, he projects the short film he has taken in Hyde Park that afternoon. Excitedly, he rushes out and drags in a passing policeman to witness the success of the film. The policeman is dumbfounded, not quite comprehending what he has just seen.

Back at the conference, Friese-Greene again stands up to speak, but becomes incoherent and is forced to sit down. He collapses. A doctor is called, but it is too late. Examining the contents of his pockets in an attempt to identify him, the doctor comments that all the money he could find was just enough for a ticket to the cinema.

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