The Monkey's Uncle
|The Monkey's Uncle|
|Directed by||Robert Stevenson|
|Produced by||Ron Miller|
|Written by||Alfred Lewis Levitt|
|Music by||Buddy Baker|
|Edited by||Cotton Warburton|
|Distributed by||Buena Vista Distribution|
|Box office||$4,000,000 (US/ Canada rentals)|
The Monkey's Uncle is a 1965 Walt Disney production starring Tommy Kirk as genius college student Merlin Jones and Annette Funicello (former Mouseketeer from The Mickey Mouse Club) as his girlfriend, Jennifer. The title plays on the idiom "monkey's uncle" and refers to a chimpanzee named Stanley, Merlin's legal "nephew" (a legal arrangement resulting from an experiment to raise Stanley as a human); Stanley otherwise has little relevance to the plot. Jones invents a man-powered airplane and a sleep-learning system. The film is a sequel to the 1964 film The Misadventures of Merlin Jones.
Midvale College is told that a wealthy man, Mr. Astorbilt (Arthur O'Connell), will give a large donation, but he has a strange request — he challenges the school to build a man-powered flying machine. If they succeed by a certain date, they get the donation, otherwise it will go to a rival school.
Merlin Jones (Kirk) designs a lightweight airplane, powered by a propeller driven by bicycle pedals. Recognizing that even his football-jock friends won't be strong enough for such a feat, he develops a strength elixir (based on adrenaline), which should give the power that a man would need to get off the ground.
To get the jocks' support, he creates "an honest way to cheat", adapting the recently discovered sleep-learning method to help them pass a particularly hard history course. Once the jocks are asleep, a timer starts a phonograph player, with the sound of Merlin's girlfriend, Jennifer (Annette Funicello), reading their lessons to them. This backfires in class, however — asked to give an oral report, the jocks speak, but Jennifer's voice comes out. It eventually works out in the students' favor.
Jones gets the jocks' help, and the great day comes. The pilot drinks the elixir, then pedals off into the sky, winning the contest. Unfortunately, the "wealthy donor" is last seen fleeing from men in white coats, who want to take him back to the local mental hospital.
- Tommy Kirk ... Merlin Jones
- Annette Funicello ... Jennifer
- Leon Ames ... Judge Holmsby
- Arthur O'Connell ... Darius Green III
- Frank Faylen ... Mr. Dearborne
- Leon Tyler ... Leon
- Norm Grabowski ... Norman
- Cheryl Miller ... Lisa
- Connie Gilchrist ... Mrs. Gossett
- Alan Hewitt ... Professor Shattuck
- Gage Clarke ... College President
- Mark Goddard ... Haywood
- Harry Holcombe ... Regent
- Alexander Lockwood ... Regent
- Harry Antrim ... Regent
- Brian Wilson ... Himself
- Carl Wilson ... Himself
- Dennis Wilson ... Himself
- Al Jardine ... Himself
- Mike Love ... Himself
This production marks both Tommy Kirk's and Annette Funicello's last film for the studio. Mark Goddard, who plays Haywood (and is best known as Major Don West on television's Lost in Space), made his feature film debut in this movie.
The screen credit for writing reads, "Screenplay by Tom and Helen August", which were the pseudonyms for Alfred Lewis Levitt and Helen Levitt, two writers who were blacklisted. The home video release of this film restored the Levitts' credits.
Richard F. Shepard of The New York Times described The Monkey's Uncle as "an amusing film made with artless artfulness ... It all falls into bright, colorful and innocuous non sequitur and, in an hour and a half, you are through, mildly diverted and unburdened by message." Variety noted that the film, "like its predecessor, depends on gimmicks and some nutty situations, which provide mild amusement." Margaret Harford of the Los Angeles Times said the film "disappoints as a lineal descendant of Disney's Absent Minded Professor but it can hardly miss with the young set." The Monthly Film Bulletin wrote that the film was "perhaps slightly funnier for being less extravagant than its predecessor."
- "The Monkey's Uncle - Details". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. American Film Institute. Retrieved April 16, 2019.
- This figure consists of anticipated rentals accruing distributors in North America. See "Big Rental Pictures of 1965", Variety, 5 January 1966 p 6
- Shepard, Richard F. (August 19, 1965). "Monkey's Uncle". The New York Times. 35.
- Turner Classic Movies http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title.jsp?stid=83871
- Disney Announces Diverse Schedule: Doris Day Winner (Again); Ill Wind a Boon to Actors Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times 4 Jan 1965: B7.
- Rex Harrison Will Do Film Dr. Dolittle: Stella Stevens in 'Stormfire'; How to Keep Oscar in Family Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times 23 Mar 1964: C19.
- Johnson, Ted (April 3, 1997). "WGA Corrects Blacklist Credits". Variety. Retrieved 2013-08-07.
- "The Monkey's Uncle". Retrieved 7 October 2018.
- "Film Reviews: The Monkey's Uncle". Variety. May 26, 1965. 14.
- Harford, Margaret (July 17, 1965). "'Monkey's Uncle': Teens Will Go Ape". Los Angeles Times. Part III, p. 8.
- "The Monkey's Uncle". The Monthly Film Bulletin. 32 (379): 125. August 1965.