|The Absent-Minded Professor|
|Directed by||Robert Stevenson|
|Produced by||Bill Walsh|
|Written by||Samuel W. Taylor
|Music by||George Bruns|
|Editing by||Cotton Warburton|
|Distributed by||Buena Vista Distribution Co. Inc.|
|Release date(s)||March 16, 1961|
|Running time||97 mins|
|Followed by||Son of Flubber|
The Absent-Minded Professor is a 1961 Walt Disney Pictures film based on the short story "A Situation of Gravity", by Samuel W. Taylor. The film was reissued to theaters in 1967 and 1975, and released to video in 1981, 1986, and 1992. It was a huge success at the box-office, and has been remade twice since - once as a version for television starring Harry Anderson of TV's Night Court as the Professor, and once more as a theatrical film entitled Flubber, with Robin Williams as the Professor. 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.
The original 1961 film, shot in black-and-white, was one of the first Disney films to be colorized, for the 1986 video release, and along with The Shaggy Dog (1959) and Son of Flubber, is one of Disney's few black-and-white films made after the silent film era.
Professor Brainard is an absent-minded professor of physical chemistry at Medfield College 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 to energy plus (rather than minus which is incorrect) pressure times volume. Brainard names his discovery Flubber, for "flying rubber". 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'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 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 successful wedding at last.
|Fred MacMurray||Professor Ned Brainard|
|Nancy Olson||Betsy Carlisle|
|Keenan Wynn||Alonzo P. Hawk|
|Tommy Kirk||Biff Hawk|
|Leon Ames||President Rufus Daggett|
|Elliott Reid||Professor Shelby Ashton|
|Edward Andrews||Defense Secretary|
|David Lewis||General Singer|
|Jack Mullaney||Air Force Captain|
|Belle Montrose||Mrs. Chatsworth|
|Wally Brown||Coach Elkins|
|Wally Boag||TV Newsman|
|Forrest Lewis||Officer Kelley|
|James Westerfield||Officer Hanson|
|Alan Hewitt||General Hotchkiss|
|Raymond Bailey||Admirial Olmstead|
This film was followed by a sequel Son of Flubber, released in 1963 also featuring MacMurray, Olson, Reid, the three Wynns (Ed Wynn as a Hank Kimball-like county agent and Ned as the student manager of Rutland's football team), Hewitt (as District Attorney) and Kirk.
The film was remade in 1988 as a TV movie with Harry Anderson and Mary Page Keller as the renamed characters Prof. Henry Crawford and Ellen Whitley; and in 1997 as the theatrical motion picture Flubber, starring Robin Williams as the slightly renamed Prof. Philip Brainard and Marcia Gay Harden as his love interest, Dr. Sara Jean Reynolds. Nancy Olson had a cameo in the remake.