Ned Brainard (Fred MacMurray) is an eccentric Medfield College professor who is so engrossed in conducting experiments in his garage/lab, he forgets to turn up for his own wedding – three times.
Tiring of this, Ned’s lovely fiancée Betsy starts seeing nerdy Professor Ashton (Elliott Reid), and to make matters worse, local tycoon Alonzo Hawk (Keenan Wynn) threatens to turn beloved Medfield into an estate.
After a botched experiment blows up Brainard’s garage, he discovers he has accidentally invented a flying rubber, which he dubs “flubber” (for “flying rubber”).
The gravity-defying substance sets up the film’s best comedic segments: Brainard applies it to the Medfield basketball team’s gym shoes at halftime, sticks it on his own shoes at a school dance, and even converts his old Model T into a flying machine.
Naturally, the greedy Hawk wants the goo for himself, forcing Brainard to attempt to fly to Washington DC, to plead his case.
MacMurray is a lot of fun in the title role, although the central romance between MacMurray and huffy bride-to-be Nancy Olson gets a bit annoying in its repetitiveness.
In all, however, this is one of the best children’s films of the ’60s and one of Disney’s more successful forays into live-action films.
A sequel, Son of Flubber, followed in 1963. A remake – simply titled Flubber and starring Robin Williams – appeared in 1997.
Professor Ned Brainard
Professor Shelby Ashton