Absent-Minded Professor, The (1961): Robert Stevenson’s Oscar-Nominated Comedy, Starring Fred MacMurray

Disney’s zany family comedy, The Absent-Minded Professor, directed by Robert Stevenson, stars Fred MacMurray as college professor Ned Brainard, who discovers a “flying rubber” that makes cars and basketball teams fly.
When applied to shoes, the gravity-defying substance allows the wearers to leap way high.
The antagonist is the villainous Alonzo Hawk (Keenan Wynn), who plots to steal the formula for his own personal gains.
The screenplay is based on Samuel W. Taylor’s short story, “A Situation of Gravity,” and Disney has claimed that the titular role was also inspired by a real professor of chemistry at Princeton University, Hubert Alyea, and nicknamed “Dr. Boom,” due to his explosive lectures.
Unlike most Disney live-action comedies, The Absent Professor was shot in black-and-white for budgetary reasons.
Hugely successful at the box office, grossing over 25 million in the U.S. alone, the movie was rereleased by Disney in 1967 and then again in 1975.
Unfortunately, it was colorized in 1986, but protests led to its reissuing in black-and-white, and stop showing the colorized version.
In 1963, Disney made a sequel, also starring MacMurray, “The Son of Flubber,” which was also popular at the box-office, but not as wacky or inventive.
 
Detailed Plot
MacMurray plays Professor of physical chemistry at Medfield College, who invents a substance that gains energy when striking any hard surface. He names his discovery Flubber, a portmanteau of “flying rubber.”  He gets so excited that he misses his own wedding to Betsy Carlisle (Nancy Olson) for the third time, for which the disappointed woman makes him guilty, forcing him to woo her.
Meanwhile, Alonso Hawk (Wynn) schemes to gain wealth by means of Flubber.  Brainard’s attempts to interest the government and military in uses for Flubber.  Shelby Ashton (Elliott Reid), who was interested in Betsy, is punished by Brainard who jumps on his car until it crashes into a police car.
Looking for backers, he bounces his Flubber ball for an audience, but his pitch is long-winded (the crowd leaves).  Then, for a more successful demonstration, he makes his  Model T fly by bombarding Flubber with radioactive particles.
There are other adventures and misadventures, as Flubber is used on the bottoms of basketball players’ shoes in a crucial game, which gives them jumping abilities.
Hawk is tackled by a football team, bringing him down after Brainard tricks him into testing Flubber on his shoes. The Professor retrieves Model T from the warehouse, and Hawk is arrested for gun possession, when the car crashes into a police car.
In the end, Brainard shows his discovery to the government after being scared by a missile in flight, and wins back Miss Carlisle’s heart, this time showing to their wedding.
Oscar nominations: 3
Cinematography (b/w): Edward Colman
Art Direction-Set Decoration (b/w): Carroll Clark; Emil Kuri, Hal Gausman
Special Effects: Robert A. Mattey, Eustace Lycett
Oscar Awards: None