Magic Box, The (ABPC 1952, Robert Donat, Renee Asherson)

The Magic Box 1951

Fascinating biopic The Magic Box follows the ups and downs of the career of William Friese-Greene, the largely unknown British inventor who patented the first motion picture camera. Nearly every big-name British actor of the 1950s has a bit part in the film, including a memorable cameo from Laurence Olivier as a policeman who is the first person to see a moving picture. Few today recognize the contributions of Friese-Greene, who patented his camera two full years before Thomas Edison.

Besides Olivier among the many other British stars who have cameos in the film are William Hartnell, Sid James, Joyce Grenfell, Michael Hordern, Michael Redgrave, Margaret Rutherford, Sheila Sim, Ernest Thesiger and Peter Ustinov.

Robert Donat as William Friese-Greene
John Howard Davies as Maurice Friese-Greene
Renée Asherson as Miss Tagg
Richard Attenborough as Jack Carter
Robert Beatty as Lord Beaverbrook
Martin Boddey as Sitter in Bath Studio
Edward Chapman as Father in Family Group
John Charlesworth as Graham Friese-Greene
Maurice Colbourne as Bride’s Father in Wedding Group
Roland Culver as 1st Company Promoter
Michael Denison as Reporter
Joan Dowling as Maggie
Henry Edwards as Butler at Fox Talbot’s
Mary Ellis as Mrs. Nell Collings
Marjorie Fielding as Elderly Viscountess

crew details
Director: John Boulting
Screenplay: Eric Ambler

production details
Country: UK
Studio: ABPC
Year of Release: 1952
Duration: 118 minutes

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