The Misadventures of Merlin Jones (1964)

Article 2741 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 11-7-2008
Posting Date: 2-13-2009
Directed by Robert Stevenson
Featuring Tommy Kirk, Annette Funicello, Leon Ames
Country: USA

The scientific experiments of a college genius get him involved with a local judge.

Well, what do you know! This shopping cart movie manages to emulate one of those manifestations in which two separate episodes of a TV series are edited together to form a bogus movie. In the first half, Merlin Jones develops the ability to read minds, and begins to suspect the judge of being a master criminal. In the second, he experiments with hypnotism and ends up using the judge as a subject in an experiment to find out whether hypnotism can really force someone to go against his own moral code. Factor in the overall sense of blandness to this one, and the fact that, unlike most of the other Disney shopping cart movies, this one does not build to anything like a rousing climax, and the sense of watching TV episodes becomes that much stronger. Yet I can find no evidence that this was from a TV-series; nevertheless, I suspect that these were originally conceived as two episodes of Disney’s long-running TV series but which somehow ended up as a feature film. Well, for whatever reason, I have to admit that this one really falls flat for me; the best part of the movie is the opening animation, but after that, the blandness drags it down. Fans of Tommy Kirk and Annette Funicello may well enjoy it, as will those with nostalgic fondness for the movie. It must have done well enough in the theaters; it inspired a sequel, THE MONKEY’S UNCLE, which also appears to tell two different stories.

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