Absent Minded Professor (1961)

Genre: Comedy, Sci-Fi | Age: 5-7


Ages 4 & Under -- Probably Not
Ages 5 to 7 -- Yes
Ages 8 to 9 -- Yes
Ages 10 to 12 -- Yes
Ages 13 to 15 -- Yes
Ages 15 to 17 -- Maybe

Absent Minded Professor (1961)

SCIENCE FICTION COMEDY: 1961, NR. Professor Fred Bainnard (brain-nerd, get it?) is so wrapped up in the chemistry experiments he performs in his garage that he misses his own wedding . . . for the third time. He invents flying rubber – he dubs it flubber – which can make anything it is attached to fly. Fred’s purposes are altruistic – to save the college from foreclosure and to offer a new weapon to the Army (which is, however, stocked with narrow-minded disbelievers). He applies flubber to the basketball team’s shoes to help them defeat a far superior team. While Fred wants to square things with his on-again, off-again fiancée, Betsy, she humorously misinterprets all his attempts. She doesn’t believe he helped the team win the game; she doesn’t believe he made a flying car. At the depth of his degradation, Betsy finally believes him. Once she joins forces with him, success is in hand. After he achieves the public recognition he craves, they get married.

VIOLENCE/SCARINESS: Minor and comedic. A couple of gangsters try to capture Fred, but knock them¬selves out instead. A couple of outrageous head-on car crashes in which no one gets hurt.

Bribery (P), Cheating (P & U).

MORALS, ISSUES & VALUES. Fred does some very mean things – he causes his love rival to crash his car and to appear insane (however, the humor is so well done that this temporary lapse of morality is not threatening or seen as an ugly trait, as it is with the villain). Using flubber to defeat another basketball team is not seen as cheating. The villain, businessman Alonzo Hawk, tries to bribe the college into passing his son and is about to foreclose on the college, tear it down and build a housing project. Once Fred has achieved the public recognition he craves, he can get married. According to the film: Science and scientists are the source of wisdom and progress, though they can be very strange people. Individuals, rather than institutions, are at the root of invention. Evil is embodied in capitalism taken to greedy and heartless extreme, and using power to influence others to dishonesty. One can only succeed with a partner. Only “successful” men are attractive to women and qualified to get married.


SEXUALITY & GENDER ROLES: Traditional gender roles. Betsy’s role is typically “feminine” – she worries about her hair and her nails. Having lost his girl and he credibility, at the bottom of his depression, Fred’s old housekeeper spurs him to fight for his girl. This is a good example of a “wise old woman” help a young man.

BOOK: Samuel W. Taylor, “The Absent-Minded Professor.”

COMMENTS: Another 1960’s college-campus film from Disney. This light comedy is mostly about adults acting like children – which can be very entertaining to both children, who are validated, and to adults, who will recognize the humor at a different level. Broad comedy and fine special effects make this film a lot of fun for the whole family but beware, the film doesn’t punish the breaking of rules. Remade as Flubber.

STARRING: Fred MacMurray, Nancy Olson, Keenan Wynn, Tommy Kirk, Ed Wynn, Leon Ames, Elliott Reid.


Nudity -- 0
Sexuality -- 0
Physical Violence -- 1
Emotional Stress -- 2
Blood or Gore -- 0
Language/Profanity -- 0
Immorality -- 2
Parental Guidance -- 2
Watchability for Adults -- 3
Overall (For Kids of the Appropriate Age) -- 4
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Copyright Arthur Taussig 2024