Professor Leaf, an absent-minded poet with a prejudice against the sciences, is forced to face the fact that his son is a math prodigy with little artistic talent of his own. Written by
According to Bill Mumy, this movie shows Brigitte Bardot's first American actor film kiss, with him. See more »
The prior claim that the presence of the Issaquah ferry means that the locations are in Washington state and not Sausalito is mistaken. The Issaquah ran in San Francisco Bay until 1948. In the 1950s it was divided into apartments and rented. The pilot houses today stand at the entrance to Galilee Harbor in Sausalito and are used as a kind of mini-museum documenting the local history. This can be checked at the Issaquah history web site. See more »
Mixed Bag: Charm + Loathsome Stewart = Problematic Family Comedy
Okay, I acknowledge that I am prejudiced.
While primarily a right-brain person myself, the so-called whimsy of a NoCal "Pulitzer-Prize winning poet" (?), who lives on an ugly, decrepit docked river boat, in discovering that his artistically talentless son happens to be a mathematical prodigy, is lost in a the growling misanthropy of star James Stewart's dithering, hostile performance.
The marvelous Billy Mumy, always a charismatic child actor, plays the gifted young Erasmus, and Glynnis Johns shines as the patient mother. The problem? Stewart and Stewart's charmless, utterly selfish father. His original instinct being to hide his child's gifts is bad enough, but I switched the movie off in disgust when he revealed he did not know (and had no clue) of his elder child (a daughter's) age (she's 18, and he didn't know). Add to that his threatening reporters with a loaded shotgun, plus his ranted lectures about "progress" as being the provenance of what he calls "the Exploders" and you have a rancid family comedy that has aged abominably.
My guess: Stewart, a notably ungenerous actor who demanded that the show center all around him, may have been annoyed by the effortless scene stealing from the sly, charming, profoundly gifted young Mumy, who made everything look easy and fun. Stewart is upstaged in every scene by Mumy, and it's my (completely unfounded) guess that he was unhappy about it. But what do I know? I only have his neurotic, overwrought, and badly miscalculated work to go on.
Fabian has nothing to do. Guessing also Stewart may have had something to do with this. But again, who knows? Stewart famously was enraged after the release of the wonderful "Winchester 73" that the young Rock Hudson, in his few scenes, stole Stewart's thunder: Stewart never worked with him again.
By the time Ms. Bardot shows up, Stewart has had his conversion, but alas, all the same, all is lost. Not a half-shell on Stewart's other Henry Koster- directed comedy, "Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation", which is still charming, if oh-so-Sixties, family fun (benefiting as it does with a Mancini score, Maureen O'Hara, and a touch more Fabian, plus better color and production values).
Note: Love narrator Ed Wynn's expository asides to the camera (audience), with the other characters often asking him, Pirandello-like, just who he is talking to?
Overall verdict: block out Stewart (which is hard to do), and the others are just fine. I too often like Stewart, so if you're a fan, do yourself a favor and let this botch go by.
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