The Absent-Minded Professor (1961)

97 mins | Comedy, Fantasy | 16 March 1961

Director:

Robert Stevenson

Writer:

Bill Walsh

Cinematographer:

Edward Colman

Production Designer:

Carroll Clark

Production Company:

Walt Disney Productions
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HISTORY

A news item in the 28 Sep 1959 DV announced that Fred MacMurray would star as “Prof. Ned Brainard” in The Absent-Minded Professor for Walt Disney Productions. Shooting was set to begin in Mar 1960. In a 26 Jun 1960 LAT article, the project was described by Walt Disney as a “kind of follow-up” to the studio’s recent box-office success, The Shaggy Dog (1959, see entry), which also starred MacMurray.
       An 11 Jul 1960 DV brief attributed the script to William Roberts and Bill Walsh; however, as indicated by contemporary reviews, Roberts did not receive an onscreen credit.
       Jack Baur was listed as casting director in a 6 May 1960 DV production chart. Actors who were sought for the picture included Carl Reiner, as noted in the 12 Nov 1959 LAT; and John Wayne and Robert Stack, who were wanted for a spoof of “a pilots’ cabin scene” in their 1954 film, The High And the Mighty (see entry). According to items in the 11 Jan 1960 DV and 14 Oct 1960 LAT, the proposed scene would depict Wayne and Stack in an airplane that flew past Ned Brainard in his gravity-defying, 1912 Model T Ford.
       The 11 Jul 1960 DV noted that Ed Wynn, who was cast in the role of “Fire chief,” was the father to co-star Keenan Wynn, and grandfather to cast member Ned Wynn. The Absent-Minded Professor marked the first time all three had appeared in a film together.
       Principal photography began 2 May 1960 at Walt Disney studios in ... More Less

A news item in the 28 Sep 1959 DV announced that Fred MacMurray would star as “Prof. Ned Brainard” in The Absent-Minded Professor for Walt Disney Productions. Shooting was set to begin in Mar 1960. In a 26 Jun 1960 LAT article, the project was described by Walt Disney as a “kind of follow-up” to the studio’s recent box-office success, The Shaggy Dog (1959, see entry), which also starred MacMurray.
       An 11 Jul 1960 DV brief attributed the script to William Roberts and Bill Walsh; however, as indicated by contemporary reviews, Roberts did not receive an onscreen credit.
       Jack Baur was listed as casting director in a 6 May 1960 DV production chart. Actors who were sought for the picture included Carl Reiner, as noted in the 12 Nov 1959 LAT; and John Wayne and Robert Stack, who were wanted for a spoof of “a pilots’ cabin scene” in their 1954 film, The High And the Mighty (see entry). According to items in the 11 Jan 1960 DV and 14 Oct 1960 LAT, the proposed scene would depict Wayne and Stack in an airplane that flew past Ned Brainard in his gravity-defying, 1912 Model T Ford.
       The 11 Jul 1960 DV noted that Ed Wynn, who was cast in the role of “Fire chief,” was the father to co-star Keenan Wynn, and grandfather to cast member Ned Wynn. The Absent-Minded Professor marked the first time all three had appeared in a film together.
       Principal photography began 2 May 1960 at Walt Disney studios in Burbank, CA. On 2 Oct 1960, LAT reported that Santa Ana College students Kay Black, Della Kahn, and Andy Kormos had recently portrayed “yell leaders” in a basketball game sequence which was shot over the course of three days.
       The film opened on 16 Mar 1961 at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall, where it was presented as “the main attraction on the spring-vacation program” that included a “Glory of Easter” pageant and a stage show featuring cyclists, acrobats, singers, a tap dancer, the Corps de Ballet, and the Rockettes. The picture debuted in Los Angeles, CA, one day later on 17 Mar 1961, at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. Like The Shaggy Dog, it proved to be a great commercial success. With a negative cost of less than $2 million, as indicated in the 19 Apr 1961 Var, the film went on to gross $9 million, according to the 15 Feb 1963 DV. Within a month of release, it was named as one of four “first-quarter winners” in the Screen Producers Guild’s “‘best-produced’ awards race,” the 28 Apr 1961 DV stated. It was also nominated for a Directors Guild of America (DGA) Award for outstanding directorial achievement, according to the 24 Jan 1962 DV, and received the following Academy Award nominations: Art Direction (Black-and-White); Cinematography (Black-and-White); and Special Effects.
       A sequel titled Son of Flubber (1963, see entry) was announced in the 9 Mar 1962 DV. Fred MacMurray and several other actors from the original film reprised their roles. Shortly after its release, the 15 Feb 1963 DV deemed Son of Flubber another box-office success, and predicted that it would surpass The Absent-Minded Professor in domestic earnings. The 18 Nov 1988 Sun Sentinel [Fort Lauderdale, FL] announced that the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) and Disney would revive The Absent-Minded Professor again, as part of a “‘wheel’ of rotating series, specials and classics” to be aired on NBC’s The Magical World of Disney. The short-lived television project, also titled The Absent-Minded Professor, starred Harry Anderson, and was cancelled in spring 1989, an article in the 30 May 1989 Austin American Statesman stated. In 1997, Disney released a theatrical re-make titled Flubber (see entry), starring Robin Williams. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Austin American Statesman
30 May 1989
Section C, p. 8.
Daily Variety
28 Sep 1959
p. 1.
Daily Variety
11 Jan 1960
p. 2.
Daily Variety
6 May 1960
p. 16.
Daily Variety
11 Jul 1960
p. 2.
Daily Variety
21 Feb 1961
p. 3, 11.
Daily Variety
17 Mar 1961
p. 3.
Daily Variety
28 Apr 1961
p. 1.
Daily Variety
24 Jan 1962
p. 6.
Daily Variety
9 Mar 1962
p. 4.
Daily Variety
15 Feb 1963
p. 1, 13.
Daily Variety
21 Nov 1997
p. 10.
Los Angeles Times
12 Nov 1959
Section C, p. 13.
Los Angeles Times
26 Jun 1960
Section F, p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
2 Oct 1960
Section OC, p. 6.
Los Angeles Times
14 Oct 1960
Section A, p. 9.
Los Angeles Times
18 Mar 1961
Section A, p. 6.
New York Times
16 Mar 1961
p. 44.
New York Times
17 Mar 1961
p. 25.
Sun Sentinel [Fort Lauderdale, FL]
18 Nov 1988
Section E, p. 6.
Variety
19 Apr 1961
p. 24.
Variety
10 Jan 1962
p. 13.
Variety
27 Feb 1963.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Walt Disney Production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2nd unit dir
Asst dir
PRODUCER
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
MUSIC
SOUND
Sd supv
Sd mix
Music ed
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec photog eff
Spec photog eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairstyles
PRODUCTION MISC
Seq cons
ANIMATION
Anim eff
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the short story "A Situation of Gravity" by Samuel W. Taylor in Liberty (22 May 1943).
SONGS
"Medfield Fight Song," words and music by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Absent Minded Professor
Release Date:
16 March 1961
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 16 March 1961 at Radio City Music Hall
Los Angeles opening: 17 March 1961 at Grauman's Chinese Theatre
Production Date:
began 2 May 1960
Copyright Claimant:
Walt Disney Productions
Copyright Date:
20 December 1960
Copyright Number:
LP18401
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
97
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Ned Brainard, the science professor at a smalltown college, is so forgetful that he has left his fiancée, Betsy Carlisle, waiting at the altar on two different occasions. Though determined not to miss the third ceremony, he becomes engrossed in an experiment and again fails to appear. He does not become a bridegroom, but he does become the inventor of a black, rubbery, antigravitational substance which rises to a greater height each time it is bounced. After naming the product "flubber," he substitutes it for the motor of his old Model T and is soon soaring through the sky. Giddy with success, he secretly places some flubber on the shoes of the college's basketball players, enabling them to bounce over the heads of their opponents and win an easy victory. Word of his discovery soon attracts the attention of a scheming alumnus, Alonzo Hawk, who steals the professor's car. Ned places some flubber on Alonzo's shoes, however, and leaves him bouncing higher and higher on his front lawn. Then, with the aid of Betsy, he rescues his car and takes off for Washington, D. C. After completely upsetting the Pentagon's defense system, he lands on the White House lawn and becomes a national hero and, finally, Betsy's ... +


Ned Brainard, the science professor at a smalltown college, is so forgetful that he has left his fiancée, Betsy Carlisle, waiting at the altar on two different occasions. Though determined not to miss the third ceremony, he becomes engrossed in an experiment and again fails to appear. He does not become a bridegroom, but he does become the inventor of a black, rubbery, antigravitational substance which rises to a greater height each time it is bounced. After naming the product "flubber," he substitutes it for the motor of his old Model T and is soon soaring through the sky. Giddy with success, he secretly places some flubber on the shoes of the college's basketball players, enabling them to bounce over the heads of their opponents and win an easy victory. Word of his discovery soon attracts the attention of a scheming alumnus, Alonzo Hawk, who steals the professor's car. Ned places some flubber on Alonzo's shoes, however, and leaves him bouncing higher and higher on his front lawn. Then, with the aid of Betsy, he rescues his car and takes off for Washington, D. C. After completely upsetting the Pentagon's defense system, he lands on the White House lawn and becomes a national hero and, finally, Betsy's husband. +

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

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