Friday, August 8, 2008

Summer Under the Stars: Fred MacMurray

Movie Dearest continues our daily previews of Turner Classic Movies' month long "Summer Under the Stars" celebration:

Now Playing Star Profile for Fred MacMurray - Stardates: Born August 30, 1908, Kankakee, Illinois; died 1991. Star Sign: Virgo. Star Qualities: The fatherly twinkle, the chipmunk smile, the gift for playing likable chumps. Star definition: "Everybody's nice fellow ... gives people the feeling that he's kind to dogs, children, mothers and widows." -- Billy Wilder. Galaxy of Characters: Arthur Russell in Alice Adams, Wilson Daniels in The Shaggy Dog, Jeff D. Sheldrake in The Apartment, Professor Ned Brainard in The Absent-Minded Professor.

"Let's see, flying rubber... Flubber!" And thus, a magical substance found only in the Disney universe was born. Created by MacMurray's Absent-Minded Professor (and it's a testament to MacMurray's versatility as an actor that his easily distracted title prof came just one year after his oily turn in The Apartment), Flubber was a versatile goo that could do anything, from making cars fly to basketball players bounce. MacMurray literally sang its praises in "The Flubber Song", a swinging ditty graciously left out of the film itself.

The professor and his prized invention would return two years later for the equally charming Son of Flubber, also airing on TCM tomorrow. A 1988 TV movie remake notwithstanding, Flubber would not be seen again on the big screen until it got a CGI makeover for the 1997 Robin Williams version Flubber; alas, the less said about that mess, the better.

The Absent-Minded Professor airs tomorrow on TCM at 9:00 AM EST.

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