The Absent-Minded Professor

on March 16, 1961 by BOXOFFICE Staff
   Walt Disney follows up his blockbusting "The Shaggy Dog" of 1959 with another modest-budget, black-and-white live-action comedy that bids fair to break records in 1961. All the popular ingredients are present: Fred MacMurray is again starred, this time as a zany scientist who invents a rubbery substance, which he names "flubber"; the screenplay by Bill "Shaggy" Walsh, based on a story by Samuel Taylor, is another fantasy in a small-town setting; and Robert Stevenson has directed in a broad, Mack Sennett-like fashion that will have audiences howling as MacMurray's flubber has people and an old flivver bouncing sky-high. With Tommy Kirk, Disney's teenage regular, and both Keenan and Ed Wynn (the latter in a guest appearance in his old role of a befuddled fire chief) for extra marquee draw, this is ideal family fare to delight youngsters and adults alike. There's even a few puzzled-looking dogs and the "Shaggy Dog" cops, James Westerfield and Forrest Lewis, for added laughs--what more could exhibitors want? MacMurray is well cast as the professor, and Nancy Olson registers charm and exasperation nicely as his waiting-at-the-altar fiancee. Keenan Wynn as a loan shark and Kirk as his fumbling son couldn't be better. Elliot Reid, Leon Ames and Edward Andrews co-star.

   Fred MacMurray, a college science teacher, who has twice forgotten to show up for his wedding to Nancy Olson, is conducting an experiment that results in an explosion--and a black, rubbery substance that possesses powerful anti-gravitational energy is born. MacMurray names his discovery "flubber" and, putting it in the motor of his old Model-T Ford, he is soon soaring through the sky. He also uses it to make the school's basketball players bound above the basket and score a victory. Keenan Wynn, a loan shark, gets wind of this and tries to steal MacMurray's invention before U.S. government officials arrive to inspect it. But Nancy forgives him for his forgetfulness and she aids him to outwit Wynn and set off skyward with her new husband to Washington.

Although dogs are in the minority in this film, stress the similarity to "The Shaggy Dog" by playing up Fred MacMurray and Tommy Kirk, who starred in it. Kirk is also currently starred in "Swiss Family Robinson." Advertise for an old Model-T, such as is used in the film, and display it in the lobby to attract attention. Mention that Ed Wynn is seen in his familiar Fire Chief role.

You'll be "Flubbergasted" at Fred MacMurray's New Adventures ... He Left His Fiancee Waiting at the Church But He Won Her Back With a "Flubber." FLASHBACK: FEBRUARY 27, 1961
What BOXOFFICE said about...
Buena Vista, comedy/drama, 97 min. Rel: May 1961.

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