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The Absent-Minded Professor

The Absent-Minded Professor

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The Absent-Minded Professor is a 1961 black-and-white
Black-and-white
Black-and-white, often abbreviated B/W or B&W, is a term referring to a number of monochrome forms in visual arts.Black-and-white as a description is also something of a misnomer, for in addition to black and white, most of these media included varying shades of gray...

 Walt Disney Productions film based on the short story A Situation of Gravity, by Samuel W. Taylor
Samuel W. Taylor
Samuel Woolley Taylor was an American novelist, scriptwriter and historian.- Biography :Taylor was born in Provo, Utah to Janet "Nettie" Maria Woolley and John W. Taylor, the son of John Taylor, the late president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints...

.
The title character was based in part on Hubert Alyea, a professor emeritus of chemistry
Chemistry
Chemistry is the science of matter, especially its chemical reactions, but also its composition, structure and properties. Chemistry is concerned with atoms and their interactions with other atoms, and particularly with the properties of chemical bonds....

 at Princeton University
Princeton University
Princeton University is a private research university located in Princeton, New Jersey, United States. The school is one of the eight universities of the Ivy League, and is one of the nine Colonial Colleges founded before the American Revolution....

, who was known as "Dr. Boom" for his explosive demonstrations.

The film was a huge success at the box-office, and two years later became the first Disney film to have a sequel, 1963's Son of Flubber
Son of Flubber
Son of Flubber is the 1963 black-and-white sequel to the Walt Disney children's movie comedy The Absent-Minded Professor , also starring Fred MacMurray as a scientist who has perfected a high-bouncing substance, Flubber that can levitate an automobile and cause athletes to bounce into the sky...

.


The original 1961 film was one of the first Disney films to be colorized
Film colorization
Film colorization is any process that adds color to black-and-white, sepia or monochrome moving-picture images. It may be done as a special effect, or to modernize black-and-white films, or to restore color films...

 (for the 1986 video release), and along with 1959's The Shaggy Dog
The Shaggy Dog (1959 film)
The Shaggy Dog is a black and white 1959 Walt Disney film about Wilby Daniels, a teenage boy who is transformed into an Old English Sheepdog by an enchanted ring of the Borgias. The film was based on the story, The Hound of Florence by Felix Salten...

and 1963's Son of Flubber
Son of Flubber
Son of Flubber is the 1963 black-and-white sequel to the Walt Disney children's movie comedy The Absent-Minded Professor , also starring Fred MacMurray as a scientist who has perfected a high-bouncing substance, Flubber that can levitate an automobile and cause athletes to bounce into the sky...

,
it is one of Disney's few black-and-white films made after 1941.

Plot


Professor Brainard is an absent-minded professor
Absent-minded professor
The absent-minded professor is a stock character of popular fiction, usually portrayed as a talented academic whose focus on academic matters leads them to ignore or forget their surroundings....

 of physical chemistry
Physical chemistry
Physical chemistry is the study of macroscopic, atomic, subatomic, and particulate phenomena in chemical systems in terms of physical laws and concepts...

 at Medfield College
Medfield College
Medfield College is a fictitious university used as the setting for several films by The Walt Disney Company. Among them are the two 'Professor Brainard' movies, The Absent-Minded Professor and Son of Flubber ; and the 'Dexter Riley' trilogy: The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes , Now You See Him, Now...

 who invents a substance that gains energy when it strikes a hard surface. This discovery follows some blackboard scribbling in which he reverses a sign in the equation for enthalpy
Enthalpy
Enthalpy is a measure of the total energy of a thermodynamic system. It includes the internal energy, which is the energy required to create a system, and the amount of energy required to make room for it by displacing its environment and establishing its volume and pressure.Enthalpy is a...

 to energy plus (rather than minus which is correct) pressure times volume. Brainard names his discovery Flubber, a portmanteau of "flying rubber
Rubber
Natural rubber, also called India rubber or caoutchouc, is an elastomer that was originally derived from latex, a milky colloid produced by some plants. The plants would be ‘tapped’, that is, an incision made into the bark of the tree and the sticky, milk colored latex sap collected and refined...

." In the excitement of his discovery, he misses his own wedding to Betsy Carlisle, not for the first time. Subplots include another professor's wooing the disappointed Miss Carlisle, Biff Hawk's ineligibility for basketball due to failing Brainard's class, Alonzo Hawk
Alonzo Hawk
Alonzo Hawk is a recurring villain in three Walt Disney movies: The Absent-Minded Professor , Son of Flubber , and Herbie Rides Again . In the two earlier movies , his name is apparently Alonzo P...

's schemes to gain wealth by means of Flubber, the school's financial difficulties and debt to Mr. Hawk, and Brainard's attempts to interest the government and military in uses for Flubber.

Looking for backers, he bounces his Flubber ball for an audience, but his investment pitch proves so long-winded that most of the crowd has left before they notice that the ball bounced higher on its second bounce than on its first. For a more successful demonstration, he makes his Model T
Ford Model T
The Ford Model T is an automobile that was produced by Henry Ford's Ford Motor Company from September 1908 to May 1927...

 fly by bombarding Flubber with radioactive particles. Other adventures and misadventures result as Flubber is used on the bottoms of basketball players' shoes (in a crucial game) giving them tremendous jumping ability; Brainard (at a school dance) making him an accomplished dancer, and the scheming businessman (who must be tackled by a full football team to bring him down after Brainard tricks him into testing Flubber on the bottom of his shoes). Eventually, Brainard shows his discovery to the government and also wins back Miss Carlisle, culminating in a wedding at last.

Cast

Actor Role
Fred MacMurray
Fred MacMurray
Frederick Martin "Fred" MacMurray was an American actor who appeared in more than 100 movies and a successful television series during a career that spanned nearly a half-century, from 1930 to the 1970s....

 
Professor Ned Brainard
Nancy Olson
Nancy Olson
Nancy Ann Olson is an American actress.In Sunset Boulevard she played Betty Schaefer, for which she received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress...

 
Betsy Carlisle
Keenan Wynn
Keenan Wynn
Keenan Wynn was an American character actor. His bristling mustache and expressive face were his stock in trade, and though he rarely had a lead role, he got prominent billing in most of his film and TV parts....

 
Alonzo P. Hawk
Tommy Kirk
Tommy Kirk
Thomas Lee "Tommy" Kirk is a former American actor, and later a businessman.-Disney years:Kirk was discovered by talent agents at the age of thirteen in a production of Eugene O'Neill's Ah, Wilderness! at the Pasadena Playhouse in Pasadena, California...

 
Biff Hawk
Leon Ames
Leon Ames (actor)
Leon Ames was an American film and television actor. He is best remembered for playing fatherly figures in such films as Meet Me in St. Louis , as Judy Garland's father, and in Little Women ....

 
President Rufus Daggett
Elliott Reid
Elliott Reid
Elliott Reid is an American character actor from New York City.He worked regularly in radio dramas during the Golden Age of radio...

 
Professor Shelby Ashton
Edward Andrews
Edward Andrews
Edward Andrews was an American actor, one of the most recognizable character actors on television and films between the 1950s and the 1980s...

 
Defense Secretary
David Lewis
David Lewis (actor)
David Lewis was an American actor, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He is best known for playing Edward Quartermaine from 1978 to 1993 on the American soap opera General Hospital....

 
General Singer
Jack Mullaney
Jack Mullaney
Jack Mullaney was an American actor, born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Mullaney acted in several television series and films throughout his career....

 
Air Force Captain
Belle Montrose
Belle Montrose
Belle Montrose, born Isabelle Donohue in Illinois, was an Irish-American actress and vaudeville performer...

 
Mrs. Chatsworth
Wally Brown
Wally Brown
Wally Brown was an actor, comedian, and long-time partner of Alan Carney.- Biography :Wally was born in Malden, Massachusetts and served as a vaudevillian. In 1942, he began his film career in Hollywood at RKO Radio Pictures with the film Petticoat Larceny...

 
Coach Elkins
Wally Boag
Wally Boag
Wallace Vincent "Wally" Boag was an American performer known for his starring role in Disney's long-running stage show the Golden Horseshoe Revue. This is not a poster. It was an advertisement published in Variety....

 
TV Newsman
Don Ross Lennyy
Forrest Lewis
Forrest Lewis
-Career:In the mid-1950s, Lewis appeared briefly as a deputy in the syndicated crime drama Sheriff of Cochise, starring John Bromfield. He also guest starred with Maudie Prickett in the episode "Brief Glory" of the syndicated western series 26 Men...

 
Officer Kelley
James Westerfield
James Westerfield
James A. Westerfield was an American actor.Born in Nashville, Tennessee, he starred in more than 50 films during his lifetime...

 
Officer Hanson
Gage Clarke
Gage Clarke
Gage Clarke was an American character actor best known for his role as the principal in Mr. Peepers. His other work consisted largely one-shot appearances in television series such as seven major supporting roles as different characters in Maverick, twelve roles in Gunsmoke Gage Clarke (March 3,...

 
Reverend Bosworth
Alan Hewitt
Alan Hewitt
Alan Hewitt was an American film, television and stage actor.He never became a major star, but he did have a lengthy career which included smaller parts in several well-known programs, including Daktari, I Dream Of Jeannie, Dr...

 
General Hotchkiss
Raymond Bailey
Raymond Bailey
Raymond Thomas Bailey was an American actor on the Broadway stage, movies, and television. He is best known for his role as wealthy banker, Milburn Drysdale, in the television series The Beverly Hillbillies....

 
Admirial Olmstead
Ed Wynn
Ed Wynn
Ed Wynn was a popular American comedian and actor noted for his Perfect Fool comedy character, his pioneering radio show of the 1930s, and his later career as a dramatic actor....

 
Fire Chief

Production notes


The aforementioned Prof. Alyea (1903–1996), professor of chemistry
Chemistry
Chemistry is the science of matter, especially its chemical reactions, but also its composition, structure and properties. Chemistry is concerned with atoms and their interactions with other atoms, and particularly with the properties of chemical bonds....

 at Princeton University
Princeton University
Princeton University is a private research university located in Princeton, New Jersey, United States. The school is one of the eight universities of the Ivy League, and is one of the nine Colonial Colleges founded before the American Revolution....

, earned the nickname "Dr. Boom" from Russian observers of his demonstrations at the International Science Pavilion of the Brussels World's Fair in the 1950s, which had Walt Disney in attendance. Disney told Alyea that he had given him an idea for a movie, and invited Alyea to California to give a demonstration for actor Fred MacMurray, who later mimicked Alyea's mannerisms for the film. MacMurray would later state that he had never understood chemistry until his meeting with Alyea.

The special effects were created by Robert A. Mattey and Eustace Lycett, who were nominated for an Academy Award, and included the sodium screen matte process, as well as miniatures and wire-supported mockups. The film's "Medfield Fight Song" was written by Richard M. and Robert B. Sherman, their first song for a Disney feature.

Ed Wynn
Ed Wynn
Ed Wynn was a popular American comedian and actor noted for his Perfect Fool comedy character, his pioneering radio show of the 1930s, and his later career as a dramatic actor....

 and son Keenan Wynn appear together in this film. The elder Wynn plays the Fire Chief (an inside joke, as Wynn hosted the popular radio program The Fire Chief for most of the 1930s). Keenan also played Alonzo Hawk in Son of Flubber and again in Herbie Rides Again
Herbie Rides Again
Herbie Rides Again is a 1974 comedy film. It is the sequel to The Love Bug, released six years earlier, and the second in a series of movies made by Walt Disney Productions starring an anthropomorphic 1963 Volkswagen racing Beetle named Herbie...

(1974). In the bounce scene, Keenan's character called Ed's character a fathead. Keenan's son Ned also appears uncredited in a bit part.

Medfield College of Technology
Medfield College
Medfield College is a fictitious university used as the setting for several films by The Walt Disney Company. Among them are the two 'Professor Brainard' movies, The Absent-Minded Professor and Son of Flubber ; and the 'Dexter Riley' trilogy: The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes , Now You See Him, Now...

 was used again as the setting for the sequel, Son of Flubber, as well as a later trilogy of Disney "Dexter Riley" films: The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes
The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes
The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes is a Disney film from 1969, starring Alan Hewitt, Kurt Russell, Frank Webb, and Joe Flynn. It is released by Buena Vista Distribution Company....

(1969), Now You See Him, Now You Don't
Now You See Him, Now You Don't
Now You See Him, Now You Don't is a 1972 Walt Disney film starring Kurt Russell, a student at the fictional Medfield College. It is the sequel to the 1969 film The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes....

(1972), and The Strongest Man in the World
The Strongest Man in the World
The Strongest Man in the World is a 1975 film starring Kurt Russell, still a student in the fictional Medfield College. It is the sequel to the 1972 film Now You See Him, Now You Don't, itself a sequel to the 1969 film, The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes.-Plot:Medfield College's Dean Higgins is being...

, each starring Kurt Russell
Kurt Russell
Kurt Vogel Russell is an American television and film actor. His first acting roles were as a child in television series, including a lead role in the Western series The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters...

 and Cesar Romero
Cesar Romero
Cesar Julio Romero, Jr. was an American film and television actor who was active in film, radio, and television for almost sixty years...

.

Awards


The film was nominated for three Academy Awards:
  • Best Art Direction
    Academy Award for Best Art Direction
    The Academy Awards are the oldest awards ceremony for achievements in motion pictures. The Academy Award for Best Art Direction recognizes achievement in art direction on a film. The films below are listed with their production year, so the Oscar 2000 for best art direction went to a film from 1999...

     (Carroll Clark
    Carroll Clark
    Carroll Clark was an American art director. He was nominated for seven Academy Awards in the category Best Art Direction. He worked on 173 films between 1927 and 1968...

    , Emile Kuri
    Emile Kuri
    Emile Kuri was a Mexican-born American set decorator of Lebanese parentage. He won two Academy Awards and was nominated for six more in the category Best Art Direction....

    , Hal Gausman
    Hal Gausman
    Hal Gausman was an American set decorator. He was nominated for five Academy Awards in the category Best Art Direction.-Selected filmography:Gausman was nominated for five Academy Awards for Best Art Direction:* The Absent-Minded Professor...

    ).
  • Best Cinematography
    Academy Award for Best Cinematography
    The Academy Award for Best Cinematography is an Academy Award awarded each year to a cinematographer for work in one particular motion picture.-History:...

     (Edward Colman)
  • Best Effects, Special Effects

Releases


The film was reissued to theaters in 1967 and 1975, and released to video in 1981, 1986, and 1993.
It was released as a pan and scan
Pan and scan
Pan and scan is a method of adjusting widescreen film images so that they can be shown within the proportions of a standard definition 4:3 aspect ratio television screen, often cropping off the sides of the original widescreen image to focus on the composition's most important aspects...

 print on VHS in black and white in 1981 and 1993, and in a colorized version in 1986, after successful airings on the Disney Channel in March of that year. In 2003, the film finally got a widescreen treatment: The Walt Disney laserdisc #028AS is letterboxed to produce a 1.85:1 aspect ratio format. In 2008 the film was released in the United States as part of a 2 disc set with its sequel, The Son of Flubber.

Sequel


This film was followed by a sequel Son of Flubber
Son of Flubber
Son of Flubber is the 1963 black-and-white sequel to the Walt Disney children's movie comedy The Absent-Minded Professor , also starring Fred MacMurray as a scientist who has perfected a high-bouncing substance, Flubber that can levitate an automobile and cause athletes to bounce into the sky...

,
released less than two years later in 1963 also featuring MacMurray, Olson, Reid, and Kirk reprising their roles. Hewitt also returns (now as District Attorney), as well as the three Wynns (Keenan reprising his Alonzo Hawk role, Ed Wynn as a Hank Kimball
Hank Kimball
Henry Wadsworth "Hank" Kimball was the fictitious county agent of the 1965-71 American television comedy Green Acres. The show was about a rich New York City couple who decide to buy and run a farm in the wacky and surreal town of Hooterville....

-like county agent, and Ned as the student manager of Rutland's football team).

Remakes


The Absent-Minded Professor has been remade twice, once as a 1988 television version with Harry Anderson
Harry Anderson
Harry Laverne Anderson is an American actor and magician.-Early life:Born in Newport, Rhode Island, Anderson was a street magician before becoming an actor.-Career:...

 and Mary Page Keller
Mary Page Keller
Mary Page Keller is an American actress known for roles on both daytime and primetime television.-Career:On daytime, Keller played the role of Amanda Kirkland on Ryan's Hope and the role of Sally Frame on Another World...

 as the renamed characters Prof. Henry Crawford and Ellen Whitley; and once more as a theatrical film entitled, Flubber, with Robin Williams
Robin Williams
Robin McLaurin Williams is an American actor and comedian. Rising to fame with his role as the alien Mork in the TV series Mork and Mindy, and later stand-up comedy work, Williams has performed in many feature films since 1980. He won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance...

 as the renamed Prof. Philip Brainard, with Marcia Gay Harden
Marcia Gay Harden
Marcia Gay Harden is an American film and theatre actress. Harden's breakthrough role was in Miller's Crossing and then The First Wives Club which was followed by several roles which gained her wider fame including the hit comedy Flubber and Meet Joe Black...

 as his love interest, Dr. Sara Jean Reynolds (Nancy Olson
Nancy Olson
Nancy Ann Olson is an American actress.In Sunset Boulevard she played Betty Schaefer, for which she received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress...

appears in a cameo). Neither remake was as successful or is as highly regarded as the original, but the 1997 Robin Williams version was still a considerable success. Both remakes were made in color.