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Still shot from the movie: Flash of Genius.

Flash of Genius

Based on a true story, Flash of Genius recounts the experiences of Robert Kearns (played by Greg Kinnear), a college professor who invents an intermittent windshield wiper. Although he is unsuccessful at selling his patented technology, he soon discovers his work has been incorporated into new models of cars. Convinced he has been robbed of the credit and financial rewards of his work, he launches a lawsuit against the U.S. automotive industry. Get the movie review and more. »


Overall: A-
Violence: B+
Sexual Content: B+
Language: C-
Drugs/Alcohol: C
Run Time: 119
Theater Release: 02 Oct 2008
Video Release: 17 Feb 2009
MPAA Rating: PG-13
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Mark Main says: Dec. 08, 2009

Greg Kinnear was fantastic in this movie as Robert Kearns, inventor of the intermittent wiper. But there is some very interesting irony with this story as well.

Florence Lawrence who was the world’s first movie star and received the very first movie credit ever—the movie was “The Broken Oath” released on November 15, 1910.

According to Kelly R. Brown’s 1999 biography, Florence Lawrence, the Biograph Girl, she was an avid automobile driver during a period when very few people actually owned cars. In 1914 she invented the first turn signal, which she called an ‘auto signaling arm’, which attached to the back fender. When a driver pressed a button it electrically raised or lowered a sign attached that indicated the direction of the intended turn. Her brake signal worked on the same principle that an arm with a sign reading ‘stop’ rose up whenever the driver pressed the brake pedal. This was the essential concept behind today’s brake lights.

Unfortunately Lawrence did not properly patent her inventions and soon other, more refined versions were invented and brought to market.

However, in 1917 with her mother she did patent a system of electrical windshield wipers, but it made no money. By the time the first electrical turn signals became standard equipment on the 1939 Buick, her contributions were long forgotten and she was dead.”

I find it amazingly ironic that the windshield wiper was a thorn in the side to not only Robert Kearns, the intermittent wiper inventor, but the original wiper inventor as well, Florence Lawrence.

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