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Flash Of Genius

Flash Of Genius“A fight against  injustice is the theme
  of Flash Of Genius, a clever and
  entertaining film intriguingly based
  on a true story about the ‘little guy’
  whose invention is hijacked and who,
  against all odds, single-handedly takes
  on a giant corporation...”


THE STORY IS THE EMOTIVE JOURNEY of engineer Dr Robert Kearns (Greg Kinnear: Little Miss Sunshine, As Good As It Gets) who has a Flash Of Genius in the 1960s and creates the intermittent wiper, only to have his invention developed by The Ford Motor Company.

Bob Kearns is just a regular guy, working as a university professor and married to schoolteacher Phyllis (Lauren Graham: Because I Said So, Bad Santa). They live in Detroit with their six children, trying to live in the promise of the American Dream.

In his basement workshop, assisted by his children, Bob tinkers with various inventions — including an innovative intermittent wiper which he calls The Kearns Blinking Eye, owing its conception to Bob's fascination with the workings of the human body following damage to his eye while on honeymoon. He sees his invention as very much a family project and believes he has secured their future.

Bob begins to make plans for expansion and a proper workshop in which to produce The Kearns Blinking Eye, throwing himself into marketing his invention with the help of family friend Gil Previck (Dermot Mulroney: Zodiac, About Schmidt). Together they make a presentation to Ford and the invention is enthusiastically received — it looks as though the deal is done and dusted.

Ford had already been working on its own intermittent wiper but had so far been unable to perfect it. And Bob is in for a short and very sharp shock: Ford pulls out of negotiations and refuses to enter into any discussions.

The talented engineer is stunned when he sees brand new Ford Mustangs sporting intermittent wipers and he goes to the showroom, only to be thrown out when he pulls apart one of the motors to discover that it is his own invention that Ford is using — the company has developed the revolutionary product in-house.

Devastated to find every attempt to contact Ford blocked, Bob is further hurt to find that Gil is distancing himself due to his own business interests.

Stung and angry at being overlooked, patronised and threatened, Bob is haunted by what has been done to his family and their future and is determined to fight this injustice. Like a man possessed, he launches into a seemingly-futile battle against an unyielding corporation that has all the time in the world. His overriding belief is that his life's work — or anyone else's work — should be acknowledged by those who stand to gain.

Refusing the advice of lawyer Gregory Lawson (Alan Alda: The Aviator, Crimes And Misdemeanors) to settle for $250,000 with no acknowledgement of the intermittent wiper motor being his invention, Bob becomes obsessed with his quest for justice — realising that he has to go it alone, even if it means taking the automotive giant through the courts.

It is a decision for which Bob will pay dearly, spending twelve years of his life up to his eyes in litigation, suffering a breakdown and risking the loss of everything he owns and loves.

Will Ford make Bob an offer he can't refuse? Or will the engineer hold out for his principles? Helped by his student son Dennis (Jake Abel), Robert Kearns seeks to right a wrong.

Greg Kinnear is utterly convincing as the determined college professor and Lauren Graham sensitively plays his supportive but long-suffering wife. Flash Of Genius has a great sense of period, set in the Sixties — a time of great innovations and changes, especially in the world of motoring.

The serious yet at times amusing Flash Of Genius is a compelling film that brings the Kearns' frustrations to life sympathetically, exploring the dilemma of a talented engineer who becomes a man driven when faced with an intolerable injustice.

Veteran producer Marc Abraham (Spy Game, Children Of Men, Dawn Of The Dead) makes his directorial debut with Flash Of Genius, directing from a screenplay by Philip Railsback (The Stars Fell On Henrietta) that is based on John Seabrook's The New Yorker article of the same name. Cinematography is by Academy Award-nominated Dante Spinotti (The Insider, L A Confidential); Production Designer is Hugo Luczyc-Wyhowski (Snatch, Dirty Pretty Things); Music Supervisors are G Marq Roswell and Adam Swart; and the Composer is Aaron Zigman (The Notebook, Bridge To Terabithia).

Spyglass Entertainment partners Gary Barber (Wanted, Eight Below) and Roger Birnbaum (Memoirs Of A Geisha, The Pacifier) produced the film with Michael Lieber (Joe Gould's Secret). Jonathan Glickman (The Lookout, 27 Dresses), J Miles Dale (Hollywoodland, Talk To Me), Thomas A Bliss (Spy Game, Children Of Men) and Eric Newman (Children of Men, Dawn Of The Dead) executive produce the drama. Costume Designer is Luis Sequeira and the film is Edited by Jill Savitt.

A Universal Studios and Spyglass Entertainment film, Flash Of Genius is released on DVD on 20 July, 2009.

"The serious yet at times amusing Flash Of Genius is a compelling film that brings the Kearns' frustrations to life sympathetically, exploring the dilemma of a talented engineer who becomes a man driven when faced with an intolerable injustice" — Maggie Woods, MotorBar


THERE HAVE BEEN MANY BRILLIANT INVENTORS in history without the resources to protect their ideas who have seen others patent their creations. The telephone was created by Antonio Meucci but accredited to Alexander Graham Bell; Jacob Davis came up with blue jeans but Levi Strauss takes the credit; Guglielmo Marconi is associated with the radio instead of Nikola Tesla and the telescope was invented by Hans Lippershey rather than Galileo Galilei.

I do not think there is
any thrill that can go
through the human heart
like that felt by the
inventor as he sees some
creation of the brain
unfolding to success...
Such emotions make
a man forget food,
sleep, friends, love,
everything
...”
Nikola Tesla,
inventor
of the radio
The Sixties was the golden era of the American automobile industry with Detroit its heart. Dr Robert Kearns worked as an engineering professor at Wayne State University in Detroit in the late 60s and dabbled in his basement workshop at inventions.

After damaging his eye while on his honeymoon he became fascinated by the workings of the human body and later wondered if the eye's self-cleaning blinking ability could be applied to windscreen wipers — hence The Kearns Blinking Eye Motor.

He used a capacitor, a resistor and a transistor but put them together in a manner than had not been done before. Kearns did not know that the big three automobile manufacturers were already working on this but had not yet overcome the teething problems or cracked the problem.

Robert Kearns was born in 1927 and passed away on 9 February 2005 from complications due to cancer. He was 77.

Having convinced the Kearns family of their passion for the story, the director and his team were given access to a mass of documentation, home movies, photographs and information about Robert Kearns and his invention. Kearns had already turned down other Hollywood offers but this time agreed to go ahead. His oldest son Dennis represented the family and worked with Marc Abraham and the crew while the project was finalised.

"…what begins as something that the family is behind, that they're a team in, turns into his singular obsession — a vision that goes from something they're all championing to something that's disruptive and difficult" — Lauren Graham

"His [Kearns] remarkable success has made him one of the most famous inventors in the country, a hero to thousands of inventors with their own patent-infringement horror stories to tell" — John Seabrook, The New Yorker, 1993