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Age of Great Inventions Movies & TV

Transcontinental Railroad (2003)
Chicago: City of the Century (2003)

This is another PBS documentary. If you had to pick a city to study as a microcosm of the nineteenth century, Chicago—built by the technologies of the era—would definitely be it. The film traces the rise of the city to its position of national pre-eminence at the century's close, when it would capture the American spotlight as the site of the 1893 Columbian Exposition as well as the epicenter of violent labor unrest.

The Prestige (2006)

Christopher Nolan's ode to Victorian era magic and mystery is not—NOT—a historical document...but it is a pretty entertaining film and captures the excitement of the early electrical era, when electrification was seen as nothing short of a miracle itself. The association of electricity with magic is not an accident here. Enjoy the film and watch for David Bowie as Nikola Tesla!

The Story of Alexander Graham Bell (1939)

Actor Don Ameche stars in this 1930s film drama about the life of the great inventor, Alexander Graham Bell. The film spans several decades, beginning in 1875, when Bell was only a humble young lad experimenting with copper wires. The rest, as they say, is history… or, in this case, historical fiction.

The Sound and the Science (1992)

Like The Story of Alexander Graham Bell, this television docudrama chronicles the life and work of the man who invented the telephone and dedicated himself to helping the deaf. The Sound and the Science is a slightly different interpretation, however--one that focuses much more on the relationship between Bell and his deaf wife, Mabel Hubbard.

Westinghouse (2008)

The Battle of the Currents: in the DC corner, we have the Thomas "Wizard of Menlo Park" Edison, and in AC corner, "Uncle George" Westinghouse. Who will be crowned the victor? The answer is not so simple, as this documentary––clearly sympathetic to the Westinghouse legacy––reveals.

EXPO: Magic of the White City (2005)

A must-see documentary, EXPO takes you on a tour of the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, an event of epic proportions that, for many Americans, marked the beginning of the twentieth century. Narrator Gene Wilder (star of Young Frankenstein and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory) guides you through the fairground, where guests encountered new technology, extravagant architecture, unique treats, and guilty pleasures.

3:10 to Yuma (2007)

Christian Bale is a Civil War veteran may lose his farm if he cannot find a way to pay his debts. When he is offered a large sum to detain and escort a dangerous outlaw (Russell Crowe) to a train headed to a federal court in Yuma, he must accept. Scenes in this riveting action film present the post-Civil War West as a place where life remained tough, unpredictable, and wild.

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