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
This movie was going to be called ERASMUS WITH FRECKLES, after the book on which it was based. But Brigitte Bardot only agreed to appear on the condition that her name did not appear in the credits or any of the promotional materials. The only way the producers could capitalize on Americans' fascination with Bardot was by changing the title to alert the audience that she was in the movie. See more »
Notwithstanding the opening background shots of the Golden Gate bridge, the exteriors of this film were NOT filmed in the San Francisco bay area. After about 30 seconds into the film, the exteriors are shot in the Seattle/Tacoma puget sound bay area. The boat "Issaquah" is the giveaway. 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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