Monday, October 10, 2011
I watched part of a familiar movie yesterday, “The Absent-Minded Professor”, an old B&W Disney affair. You may know the plot. Fred McMurray plays the title character, Prof. Brainard, a science professor at a small college that is in danger of folding who has invented an anti-gravity substance. The villain, Alonzo P. Hawk, played by Keenan Wynn, is a tycoon that sees dollar signs in this invention, flubber. When Hawk discovers the invention, he implores Brainard to partner with him to make millions as contractors to the government. Hawk essentially steals the invention to prevent the patriotic Brainard giving it gratis to the Pentagon. There are a few other angles in the movie, including a love triangle with a woman, Brainard, and an extroverted English professor from the competing and not struggling college. I distinctly remember the Hawk character recurring in Herbie the Love Bug movies. He is always a rapacious capitalist, threatening to destroy whatever is good and, essentially public sector. I pondered at how this movie could not be made now. I think it would be seen as “socialist”, unkind to the “job-creators”, etc. Moreover, this was a G-rated family movie. It just shows how things have changed. We have embraced the Hawks of the world, and now the professors are the villains. That was another really neat thing about the movie. Everybody knew who the professors were and they had a place of respect in the community. Um, not s’much anymore, I think.