The Absent Minded Professor (1961)

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Released 12-May-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Family None
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1961
Running Time 92:09
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Robert Stevenson
Studio
Distributor
Disney
Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Fred MacMurray
Nancy Olson
Keenan Wynn
Tommy Kirk
Leon Ames
Elliot Reid
Edward Andrews
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $19.95 Music George Bruns


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Pan & Scan English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
Portuguese Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
French
Italian
German
Spanish
Swedish
Norwegian
Danish
Finnish
Icelandic
Portuguese
Dutch
Polish
Czech
Hungarian
Hebrew
Greek
Bulgarian
Turkish
Russian
Arabic
Croatian
Slovenian
Estonian
French Titling
Italian Titling
German Titling
Spanish Titling
Portuguese Titling
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    The plot of this early Disney classic might sound familiar to many. That's because a poor remake was attempted in 1997 with Robin Williams as the star. That film was titled Flubber, and it really did fail to capture the pure innocence and charm of this, the original.

    Fred MacMurray stars in this 1961 film as Professor Ned Brainard. He's a truly madcap scientist and teacher at Medfield College. As a professor of chemistry, Brainard is a genius when it comes to working out complex calculations and formulae, but completely useless at remembering even the most trivial of everyday tasks - such as getting married. Unfortunately, the latter is upon him with his beloved fiancé Betsy (Nancy Olson) hoping that the third time is going to be the lucky one. She hasn't been married twice before, it's just that her bumbling professor can't seem to manage to ever get to the church on time and has left Betsy at the altar on two previous occasions - all because he was so engrossed in finishing some ground-breaking experiment!

    But lightning looks like striking again when, during a frantic set of calculations and experimentation on the night before his wedding, Professor Brainard gets so involved in what he is doing he again forgets to show up for the nuptials that evening. But this time it wasn't really his fault. Just as the experiment was about to be completed, a massive explosion rocked his laboratory, knocking the professor out cold. When he comes to, he is flabbergasted to find he has discovered a new substance - a kind of rubber material that seems to possess and create its own energy. This flying rubber he dubs 'flubber', and he decides to use it for the betterment of humanity. Unfortunately, the government officials he contacts with news of his discovery think he's a crackpot and initially dismiss it. Undeterred, Brainard decides to use the flubber in an attempt to win back his lost fiancé after she has given up on ever getting married and is now in the arms of a rival professor. Along the way, Brainard will use the flubber to help save Medfield College after it is discovered that the ruthless property tycoon Alonzo Hawk (the same character from Herbie Rides Again) plans on buying the college and reducing it to rubble.

    Of course, the methods involved in the pursuit of his loved one and in saving of the college, including a flying Model T Ford and basketball players with flubber attached to the soles of their shoes so they can leap several metres in the air, are sure to attract the attention of the authorities this time. And that's just what happens.

    The special effects are dated and really quite ridiculous looking at times, the plot is silly, and the acting is camp and cheesy, but the Disney charm is there so all the faults can be ignored. Unfortunately, the poor transfer we have been lumped with here in Region 4 cannot be so easily forgiven.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Unfortunately, this is not the greatest of video transfers. First and foremost what we have here is not the original black and white presentation of the film, but rather the later release that was colourised.

    The original aspect ratio of this film was 1.66:1. What we get here is presented in a cropped aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and not 16x9 enhanced. It is also probably not accurate to label it a pan and scan transfer since the several scenes where it is obvious we are watching the wrong aspect ratio (for example twin head shots in a car), are shown with the sides of both heads chopped off slightly. This occurs on numerous occasions and is really quite noticeable.

    The clarity and level of detail in the picture is quite adequate, while grain is minimal and there is no low level noise.

    What can you say about the colours in a colourised black and white film? Only that they look awful! They are quite wishy-washy with skin tones appearing quite pasty, like several too many layers of cheap makeup have been applied. The dead giveaway for a colourised film is to look at the eyes of the actors. Almost universally they look bright and incredibly vivid. In real life, not all eyes are like this.

    There are no compression artefacts or film-to-video artefacts. Film artefacts on the other hand are a different matter. They dominate the image for the entire running time with many being large black scratches and blobs. Not the cleanest print I have seen.

    There are an amazing thirty subtitle options to chose from on this disc. I am sure you will find something you like amongst them. The English variety are not perfect, but they aren't bad.

    This is a single layered disc so there is no layer change.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are no fewer than six Dolby Digital 2.0 mono soundtracks on this disc. Supported languages are English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, and Portuguese.

    As expected, dialogue is fairly dominant in the overall mix. It comes across as being a little harsh and flat, but given the nature of the mono-only source recording this is to be expected. There are no obvious audio sync problems.

    The score is by well-known and regular Disney contributor George Bruns. He composed the highly recognisable The Love Bug series of scores, and while this is not quite as memorable certainly contains many similar elements.

    With this soundtrack being a mono effort there is absolutely no surround or subwoofer use.



Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There are no extras on this disc.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    There are two versions of this classic available in Region 1. One is virtually identical to this Region 4 release, coming full screen and colourised. The other version is the original black and white transfer with an anamorphic transfer that is also presented in the correct aspect ratio of 1.66:1. From the reports I can find the colourised version is exactly the same as ours, while the black and white version is graced with a very nice looking image. It is hard to go past the original black and white version, though if on a tight budget this Region 4 disc will probably do, especially for the kids.

Summary

    The Absent Minded Professor is an early example of the crazy screwball antics that only a 1960s Disney film could deliver. Much of the film looks incredibly dated and just a little cheesy - ok, a whole lot cheesy actually, but for a look back at the way they did things in the early 60s in terms of special effects and the like, this is hard to go past.

    The video transfer is the colourised version of the film, in the wrong aspect ratio, and filled with artefacts.

    The mono audio soundtrack is about the quality expected from a more than 40 year old film.

    There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Thursday, June 17, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDLoewe Xemix 5106DO, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Calida (84cm). Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).
AmplificationHarmon/Kardon AVR7000.
SpeakersFront - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10

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