THE ABSENT MINDED PROFESSOR (1961)
Article 1951 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-18-2006
Posting Date: 12-15-2006
Directed by Robert Stevenson
Featuring Fred MacMurray, Nancy Olson, Keenan Wynn
A forgetful professor misses his wedding when he inadvertently makes a gravity-defying substance he calls flubber. He tries to win back the affections of his fiancee while keeping a greedy businessman away from his invention.
For me, the shopping-cart genre never got better than this. This one is more energetic than THE SHAGGY DOG, and the special effects are pretty impressive all around. Fred MacMurray is wonderful in the title role, capturing just the right combination of earnestness and silliness. The movie also benefits from the presence of Keenan Wynn playing the villainous businessmen, Alonzo P. Hawk, who would not only return in this movie’s sequel SON OF FLUBBER but in HERBIE RIDES AGAIN as well. The best scenes in the movie involve the use of flubber in shoes; though some may prefer the basketball game or the dance, my favorite of these is the one where Keenan Wynn’s character gets his comeuppance, a scene that involves firemen (including Wynn’s own real-life father Ed Wynn), three fisherman, a football team, a hot dog salesman, and everyone in the neighborhood. The movie even indulges in some political satire; when the flying Model T is mistaken for a UFO and is about to be shot down by missiles, I love the reaction of the man making the countdown at the knowledge that the Model T has gone behind the capitol building and that releasing the missiles could destroy Congress. This is probably my favorite of the shopping-cart genre.