The Misadventures of Merlin Jones (1964)

88 mins | Comedy | 11 February 1964

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HISTORY

Although Tom August and Helen August were given credit for the screenplay when the film was initially released, according to official WGA records, Tom and Helen August were pseudonyms for writers Alfred Lewis Levitt and Helen Levitt. The WGA changed the screenplay credit to read: "Screenplay by Alfred Lewis Levitt and Helen Levitt. Screen Story by Bill Walsh."
       Referring to the picture as Merlin Jones, the 12 Oct 1962 DV announced that the Walt Disney Productions feature would begin filming in mid-Nov 1964. At the time, it was still undecided if the property would be released on television or theatrically.
       The 18 Oct 1962 DV reported that Tommy Kirk and Annette Funicello (credited onscreen simply as “Annette”) would star. The 30 Nov 1962 DV indicated that the picture was being prepared as a television release, and Dal McKennon had been added to the cast.
       According to the 3 Jan 1963 LAT, production was underway at Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, CA. On 8 Feb 1963, DV announced that NBC was “asking Disney for two more ‘Merlin Jones’ hour shows.”
       Filming was completed by early Apr 1963, when an item in the 10 Apr 1963 DV reported that Tommy Kirk was already promoting the picture in Detroit, MI. The 27 Sep 1963 DV later stated that Kirk was currently at Walt Disney Studios resuming work on “the second ‘Merlin Jones’ feature.” The sequel was released in 1965 under the title, The Monkey’s Uncle (see entry).
       The 7 Jan 1964 DV noted a title change to The Misadventures ...

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Although Tom August and Helen August were given credit for the screenplay when the film was initially released, according to official WGA records, Tom and Helen August were pseudonyms for writers Alfred Lewis Levitt and Helen Levitt. The WGA changed the screenplay credit to read: "Screenplay by Alfred Lewis Levitt and Helen Levitt. Screen Story by Bill Walsh."
       Referring to the picture as Merlin Jones, the 12 Oct 1962 DV announced that the Walt Disney Productions feature would begin filming in mid-Nov 1964. At the time, it was still undecided if the property would be released on television or theatrically.
       The 18 Oct 1962 DV reported that Tommy Kirk and Annette Funicello (credited onscreen simply as “Annette”) would star. The 30 Nov 1962 DV indicated that the picture was being prepared as a television release, and Dal McKennon had been added to the cast.
       According to the 3 Jan 1963 LAT, production was underway at Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, CA. On 8 Feb 1963, DV announced that NBC was “asking Disney for two more ‘Merlin Jones’ hour shows.”
       Filming was completed by early Apr 1963, when an item in the 10 Apr 1963 DV reported that Tommy Kirk was already promoting the picture in Detroit, MI. The 27 Sep 1963 DV later stated that Kirk was currently at Walt Disney Studios resuming work on “the second ‘Merlin Jones’ feature.” The sequel was released in 1965 under the title, The Monkey’s Uncle (see entry).
       The 7 Jan 1964 DV noted a title change to The Misadventures of Merlin Jones, and listed a Feb 1964 theatrical release date. An 8 Feb 1964 LAT item announced the citywide Los Angeles, CA, release on 11 Feb 1964. The New York City opening followed on 25 Mar 1964, according to the following day’s NYT review, which complained that the story appeared to have been made for television, stating: “It is a pastiche of two separate stories with the same set of characters, each running less than an hour…abruptly and pointlessly stitched together in the middle…” NYT noted the film’s low quality, and asserted that even children would not like it. The 8 Jan 1964 DV review stated that the film did not deliver on its potential as an “amusing absurdity,” in the vein of Disney’s The Absent Minded Professor (1961) and The Shaggy Dog (1959, see entries).
       The copyright record for the film lists a running time of 91 minutes.

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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
PERSONAL & COMPANY INDEX CREDITS
CREDIT
HISTORY CREDITS
CREDIT TYPE
CREDIT
Corporate note credit:
Personal note credit:
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
12 Oct 1962
p. 4.
Daily Variety
18 Oct 1962
p. 2.
Daily Variety
30 Nov 1962
p. 10, 12.
Daily Variety
8 Feb 1963
p. 2.
Daily Variety
10 Apr 1963
p. 2.
Daily Variety
27 Sep 1963
p. 2.
Daily Variety
7 Jan 1964
p. 14.
Daily Variety
8 Jan 1964
p. 3.
Daily Variety
27 Feb 1964
p. 2.
Los Angeles Times
3 Jan 1963
Section C, p. 7.
Los Angeles Times
3 Jan 1964
Section C, p. 6.
Los Angeles Times
8 Feb 1964
Section B, p. 6.
New York Times
26 Mar 1964
p. 40.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Walt Disney Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
MUSIC
SOUND
Music ed
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairstyles
PRODUCTION MISC
Special titles
Special titles
SOURCES
SONGS
Song by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Merlin Jones
Release Date:
11 February 1964
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 11 Feb 1964; New York City opening: 25 Mar 1964
Production Date:
began mid Nov 1962
Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
Walt Disney Productions
20 November 1963
LP26808
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
88
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

College student Merlin Jones, constantly involved with mind experiments, devises an electronic helmet that when connected to an electroencephalographic tape records mental activity. Wearing the helmet while driving, he is stopped by traffic officer Muller and brought before Judge Holmby, who suspends his license. Returning to his laboratory, Merlin discovers accidentally that his equipment enables him to read minds. Judge Holmby visits the coffeeshop where Merlin has a part-time job, and through his powers Merlin discovers that the judge is planning a crime. He rushes to the police with the information but is brushed aside as a crackpot. Merlin and Jennifer, his girl friend, break into the judge's home looking for evidence but are arrested by the police. The judge confesses that he is the popular detective novelist Lex Fortis, and requests that this identity remain a secret. Merlin's next experimentation involves hypnotism. After successfully hypnotizing Stanley, the laboratory chimpanzee, into standing up for his rights against Norman, his bullying keeper, Merlin brawls with Norman, and as a result he is brought again before Judge Holmby. Fascinated by his experiments, the judge enlists Merlin's aid in devising a plot for his next mystery. Working on the assumption that no honest person can be made to commit a crime against his will, Merlin hypnotizes the judge and commands him to steal Stanley. Surprised when the judge actually commits the crime, Merlin and Jennifer return the chimp but are themselves charged with the theft. Unaware of his part in the crime, the judge sentences Merlin to jail. Jennifer, outraged at the injustice, convinces Judge Holmby of his own guilt, and he admits that perhaps there is a little dishonesty in everyone.

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College student Merlin Jones, constantly involved with mind experiments, devises an electronic helmet that when connected to an electroencephalographic tape records mental activity. Wearing the helmet while driving, he is stopped by traffic officer Muller and brought before Judge Holmby, who suspends his license. Returning to his laboratory, Merlin discovers accidentally that his equipment enables him to read minds. Judge Holmby visits the coffeeshop where Merlin has a part-time job, and through his powers Merlin discovers that the judge is planning a crime. He rushes to the police with the information but is brushed aside as a crackpot. Merlin and Jennifer, his girl friend, break into the judge's home looking for evidence but are arrested by the police. The judge confesses that he is the popular detective novelist Lex Fortis, and requests that this identity remain a secret. Merlin's next experimentation involves hypnotism. After successfully hypnotizing Stanley, the laboratory chimpanzee, into standing up for his rights against Norman, his bullying keeper, Merlin brawls with Norman, and as a result he is brought again before Judge Holmby. Fascinated by his experiments, the judge enlists Merlin's aid in devising a plot for his next mystery. Working on the assumption that no honest person can be made to commit a crime against his will, Merlin hypnotizes the judge and commands him to steal Stanley. Surprised when the judge actually commits the crime, Merlin and Jennifer return the chimp but are themselves charged with the theft. Unaware of his part in the crime, the judge sentences Merlin to jail. Jennifer, outraged at the injustice, convinces Judge Holmby of his own guilt, and he admits that perhaps there is a little dishonesty in everyone.

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Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.