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The Misadventures of Merlin Jones (1964)

No, not that Merlin. We already did that one. This one’s another wacky sci-fi comedy set in the wacky world of Medfield College (or Midvale? I’m getting conflicting reports). How is this town still standing with this many mad scientists in it? And why are there two Tommy Kirks and two Annette Funicellos? We will probably not find out!

I spent five whole minutes Photoshopping this together. Why do they have two title screens anyway?

Disclaimer: This blog is purely recreational and not for profit. Any material, including images and/or video footage, are property of their respective companies, unless stated otherwise. The authors’ claim no ownership of this material. The opinions expressed therein reflect those of the authors and are not to be viewed as factual documentation. All photos are capped from my copy of the movie with InstantShot! unless otherwise specified.

The history of this movie is hazy at best. Its Trivia page is completely empty, and the best I could find was unsubstantiated rumors that it might maybe have been meant as a pilot for a television series that never happened. If this is true, it makes the poor reviews and low budget make a lot more sense. However, film veterans Robert Stevenson and Bill Walsh return, and they’ve been part of so many major projects at this point that it’s weird for them to return to the Disneyland series. Alfred Lewis Levitt and Helen Levitt also get credits for the screenplay, under the pseudonyms Tom and Helen August. Their real names were blacklisted for “communist activity” which is probably nothing but Walt was so passionately anti-communist that their inclusion remains a bit confusion.

This film was meant to be the final Disney film for both of its young stars. Annette Funicello starred in several beach party movies around this time, resulting in a much more sexualized image than the studio was comfortable. Tommy Kirk, on the other hand, had come out about his homosexuality, which officially turned public opinion against him (sigh). However, before Disney could fire them, Merlin Jones made an absolute ton of money, and audiences clamored for a sequel despite the poor reviews. And who are they to refuse? But we’ll get to The Monkey’s Uncle shortly. For now, let’s get to the original film!

STORY

The credits sequence shows off some incredibly creepy stop motion animation and explains why a popular girl like Jennifer would like a nerd like Merlin. Seriously, what it is it with ‘60s stop motion and that weird spinny eye thing? After that we answer my question from the cold open with no hesitation at all. This isn’t Medfield College, it’s Midvale College. Totally different. Why did I think otherwise? Man, I don’t know. Even in the live action world, though, the jocks think they have more right to the pretty girls than the nerds, as evidenced by Norman hitting on a very uninterested Jennifer. Honestly, I thought most college students were past this kind of juvenility but here we are. Some toothless bullying happens, prompted by Merlin carrying a football helmet under his arm, but it doesn’t really go anywhere.

The football helmet, by the way, is part of a science experiment. Merlin rigs it to a bunch of electrodes to record his brain activities while doing various activities, like reading the newspaper. That’s all well and good but he gets so wrapped up in it he forgets a date with Jennifer until she comes storming in yelling at him for it. Wait a minute, an absent-minded “genius” who gets so wrapped up in his work he forgets his obligations to his romantic partner? Where have I heard that before? Yeah, this movie has a big problem with being derivative. At least it’s not a Western. Instead of apologizing, Merlin ropes her into more of his technobabbly experiments, checking his brainwaves when dancing with and kissing her. Finally, he agrees to take her on that date, but only if he can test his brain activity while he’s driving. Sure, the local judge has been cracking down on traffic violations lately, but science is worth it!

This is normal to see while driving down the road.

The bizarre headgear attracts the attention of Police Captain Loomis, who pulls Merlin over for distracted driving. Merlin immediately launches into his long-winded explanation on his work while Jennifer screeches indignantly, but it’s no good. They get a ticket and have to go to court to contest it, before the very same Honorable Judge Holmsby who’s so impatient with bad drivers. Merlin defends himself by saying he was gathering information on brainwaves while concentrating hard on driving, so how could he have been distracted? Well, Judge Holmsby has no patience for his long-winded explanations and he can’t take the defendant seriously with that thing on his head. His previous offenses and Jennifer’s excuses seal the deal. Judge Holmsby suspends Merlin’s drivers’ license for ten days as punishment for his consistent endangerment of other drivers. Womp womp.

The next time we see Merlin, Professor Shattuck of the science department walks in on him fiddling with his brainwave scanner. The momentary distraction causes one of the electrodes on the helmet to come in contact with the computer. Before you can say “worst special effects since the rock in Rob Roy”, the device explodes! But it’s okay, Merlin isn’t dead or even injured from having his head on fire, just temporarily paralyzed. This is a comedy, after all. Shattuck thinks to himself that Merlin’s a hot mess… but Merlin hears it! That’s right, the freak lab accident gave him superpowers and he can hear peoples’ thoughts. Merlin eagerly asks for the professor’s help in testing his new abilities but the professor has to leave now immediately to iron his dog or something. He takes his excuses and scrambles out, but not before warning Merlin not to tell anyone, not even Jennifer.

Is it just me who thinks this looks horrendous? No? Cool.

If he can’t tell others about his mind-reading, he might as well find out more about it, so it’s off to the library! As he peruses the shelves in a vain search for nonfiction on mind-reading, he hears another student planning to steal his lunch money. That’s something that happens in college, right? Merlin shuts him down flat and settles in to read, pleased with himself. More thoughts cross his mind, including a girl thinking about how cute he is and a beatnik writing some truly horrendous poetry (please no, I’m still scarred by Moon Pilot). This silent library gets very, very loud when you can hear thoughts, so loud that Merlin screams for quiet so he can concentrate on his own reading. A beat passes and Jennifer comes in just in time to hear everyone laughing at her boyfriend. Again. He makes the excuse that he just remembered he’s late for work, so Jennifer drives him over to the local diner.

Who should Merlin wait on there but Judge Holmsby! He vows revenge on the judge to Jennifer at a table at the back, but she warns him not to go too far. When he returns to Holmsby’s table, he overhears the judge thinking about committing a bigger crime than any he’s ever pulled before. Even worse, the judge thinks about how lucky he is to have such encyclopedic knowledge of law to help him with his crimes, and even worse than that he’s not above killing to protect his loot! This proves to Merlin that the judge is behind a string of diamond robberies and other unsolved capers that hit the town recently, and the shock causes him to spill coffee all over the judge’s lap. Holmsby recognizes him as the kid whose license he just suspended and thinks the spill might not have been an accident. He knows nothing about his mind-reading powers but he’s still watching him.

To be fair, spilling hot coffee on the guy you just got in trouble with is not a great look.

Merlin marches up to the Medfield Midvale Police Department to report everything he’s learned, but naturally the detectives there don’t believe him when he accuses the judge. Still, they’ve been having some trouble with the judge standing in the way of their cases, so they decide to at least look into things. At least, they do until they realize Merlin’s recently been in trouble with the law. It makes a lot more sense for him to accuse the judge out of revenge than for the judge to actually be guilty. Occam’s razor and all. So they throw him out of the office. Side note about the detectives, the smaller one with the moustache is Dallas McKennon, completely unrecognizable without the bushy beard that makes him look exactly like you’d expect the Big Thunder Mountain safety spiel guy to look. He’s more of a park guy than a movie guy, but I talked about his maniacal hyena laugh in Lady and the Tramp and he provides the squawks for Maleficent’s raven in Sleeping Beauty.

If the cops don’t believe him, Jennifer will. Except she doesn’t, and it doesn’t help that he refuses to tell him how he found all this stuff out, either. He backpedals and divulges his secret, but she still doesn’t believe it. However, she trusts her boyfriend, so she puts him through a series of tests by thinking “take my hand” and “kiss my hand.” When he does, she suddenly, miraculously, believes him, and her acting here is way below what we know Annette can do. It’s kind of cringey. It’s a simple step from believing Merlin can read minds to figuring out how he learned about the judge’s thefts. Telling the police went poorly and they want this done right so they have to do it themselves. Before they can lay down their plan, Judge Holmsby walks into the diner where they’re talking. He writes a note to himself to remember to call the plumber about a leak. As long as he’s out of the house, Merlin and Jennifer have the perfect opportunity to do some digging.

No matter how crazy the scheme, this girl is a ride or die for her man.

The kids disguise themselves as plumbers, complete with the same “hastily painted suitcase” gag that worked so well in Dalmatians. Not so much here. The judge’s housekeeper (played by Connie Gilchrist, who also played Liddy Lewis in A Tiger Walks) lets them in with a little skepticism but not nearly enough. In fact, she leaves them alone to rifle through the judge’s belongings with impunity. At least Jennifer rifles, her mind on evidence just like Merlin asks. Merlin actually fixes the leak instead, which isn’t a terrible idea all things considered. Helps keep their cover in tact. An hour later, the drip-free sink remains all they have to show for their capers. Jennifer doubts there’s anything to find, when suddenly Merlin hits pay dirt. On Judge Holmsby’s bookshelf lie a series of crime novels by Lex Fortis that perfectly match the crimes in town! This proves Holmsby is committing copycat crimes! Right?

Merlin watches Holmsby like a hawk that night at the diner, much to the judge’s annoyance. Keeping his ears open pays off when he hears Holmsby think the name Gloria Monday, who must be an accomplice. In an effort to keep the judge there longer and hear more thoughts, Merlin entices him there with an offer of peach pie. He declines, but the offer gives him an idea. Holmsby orders a bowl of peach pits because that’s a normal and not suspicious thing to do, and he decides he can hide diamonds inside a hollowed-out pit. It’s undeniable proof that the judge is up to something, so Merlin completely abandons his shift to return to the police station. He even tells them he can read minds, which they believe when he repeats back their own thoughts. Before they’ll investigate the judge, though, they have a little job for him.

“And we don’t even have to pay him!”

A suspect in a different robbery won’t answer their questions truthfully, even while hooked up to a polygraph test. He’s cool as a cucumber, not giving any of the signs that allow the machine to tell he’s lying even when the police know he’s guilty. Fortunately, Merlin’s powers are better than any lie detector and he quickly writes a note to pass off as a confession from the suspect’s accomplice. He heard all about the suspect’s bank robbery, the guard he shot, who he worked with, and where the accomplice escaped to, and there’s nowhere for him to run. Now that he’s cornered the suspect sings like a canary and the police are able to put him away. Merlin gets a hearty thank you for helping with the investigation but no other compensation, not even help with the case he asked for! The police need a warrant to search the judge’s house, and the only person who can grant it is Holmsby himself. Besides, he’ll never prove he read Holmsby’s mind in court.

Everyone around them is useless so Merlin and Jennifer have to take matters into their own hands. Again. This time they don’t even bother with disguises, they just climb over the garden fence and get to work digging under Holmsby’s beloved rose bushes. The judge is actually home this time, packing up a manuscript and marvelling to his housekeeper about how easy it was to finish his book once he figured out how his characters would hide their stolen diamonds. That’s right, he’s a writer, thinking about different plot elements! This kind of thing is exactly what I worry about when Googling stuff for my horror short stories. As he heads out to send his manuscript off, the housekeeper peeks out the window and sees two people in the yard! She does the reasonable thing and calls the cops just as Merlin finds a stash of incriminating peach pits hidden under the roses.

Why did he actually bury the peach pits? That seems a little far for a writer.

Cops swarm in and surround the kids, completely unsurprised to see Merlin acting up again. The ensuing commotion draws the judge’s attention, and he’s horrified to see what they did to his bushes, especially one particularly beautiful bush he named Gloria Monday. That’s right, his “accomplice” was just a rose bush. That’s a normal thing that normal people do. Merlin hands over the pits, declaring that there are diamonds inside, and Holmsby decides that the game is up. All that’s left is to confess. He leads everyone inside the house, acting as suspicious as possible to the smug cops for no apparent reason. Only after Merlin announces that he can read minds does Holmsby come out with the truth: he’s Lex Fortas, author of the crime novels Jennifer and most of the cops love so much. Everyone clamors for an autograph and Merlin just feels silly.

The next morning, Merlin returns to court about his suspended license. Holmsby quickly restores the license, which he only suspended based on circumstantial evidence in the first place. However, he has a warning for Merlin: be careful with those powers. That doesn’t seem to be an issue anymore, though. Merlin has suddenly lost his powers! How? Why? Because reasons. That’s why. I guess getting your brain electrocuted is a temporary thing. It doesn’t bother him much so I guess I shouldn’t worry about it either. He smooches Jennifer and the two drive off. And that’s it! Thanks for coming! Don’t let the door hit you on the way out! Wait… we’re only halfway through? The plot is resolved and we’re only halfway through?! Where can we possibly go from here? Why, into a completely different plot, that’s where! It’s basically a live-action package film!

In fairness, I don’t know how you could stretch that one plot to fill 90 minutes but still.

Professor Shattuck’s biology course includes a lesson on practical hypnotism for some reason, and of course he calls Merlin up to act as a guinea pig. What is up with this school? Under the hypnotic trance, Merlin can only hear Shattuck’s voice, and only when it’s directed at him. This professor who should probably not have a teaching license shoots a gun directly in Merlin’s ear, which we’re supposed to think Merlin doesn’t react to but Tommy Kirk visibly flinches. He’s much more convincing at being hypnotized into thinking water is whiskey (complete with drunkenness) and a whole raw potato is an apple. The final unnecessarily sadistic test is for Merlin to kiss the first pretty girl he sees on the way back to his seat, where the trance will break. He laugh hysterically when the girl struggles against Merlin’s kiss, because we’re still on this assault-as-comedy kick I see.

Jennifer gets super offended that Merlin kissed another girl, even under the influence of hypnosis, but Merlin remembers exactly none of it. So basically Shattuck kind of assaulted both of them. Awesome. Somebody should have his tenure removed. But apparently the movie doesn’t care about this, because Merlin only sees the boundless potential of the power of hypnosis. It can clearly alter personalities, which bears further testing. A tremendous noise outside interrupts his experiments, and he leaves his lab to find his neighbor’s dog terrorizing his cat. Well, that’s an opportunity right there, so he hypnotizes the cat into acting like a lion, which works so well the cat chases the dog up a tree! It worked!

Also as far as I can tell, Merlin named his cat Cat. Do with that what you will.

Apparently Jennifer got over the whole “being used to assault Carol” thing real quick, because she’s so excited about the potential of Merlin’s hypnotism experiments that she offers herself as a test subject. He already has a subject in mind, though: Stanley, a chimpanzee from the psych lab. The only problem is that Stanley’s keeper is none other than Norman, who already has a beef with Merlin. Case in point, Norman catches Merlin feeding Stanley pieces of banana and rips into him for spoiling him. Just to give you an example of another sad sack excuse for comedy, Norman proceeds to fall on the banana’s peel because that’s totally not a cliché. Only his pride gets bruised, so he storms out, warning Merlin that he can have him banned from the psych lab if he keeps this up.

He doesn’t. Merlin sticks around to monologue that he has a way to get Stanley away from Norman’s abuse and help everyone else as well. Of course Merlin hypnotizes the chimp and makes him sit at Norman’s desk like a man to convince him he has just as much self-worth. He repeats to Stanley that he needs to “stand up for his rights” so many times in a row that it loses all meaning, only stopping when Norman screams at Stanley to get away from his desk. Naturally, Stanley only obeys Merlin while inhis trance, so Norman freaks out and tries to beat him with a broom. And then, forgive the pun, Stanley goes ape. Merlin’s commands for Stanley to stop running around the room smashing things have no effect at all, meaning that Stanley alone can break free of hypnosis. In the chaos, Stanley pushes Norman into a bookshelf and a heavy bottle falls on his head, knocking him out cold.

For some reason, Merlin clings to the bottle like it’s his firstborn child.

Getting caught with the bottle in his hand looks really bad, so Norman drags Merlin back to court and Judge Holmsby. Instead of defending himself or talking about what happens, Merlin babbles on and on about the difference between monkeys and chimpanzees, earning an eye roll. Finally, he gets around to telling the court that the bottle fell on Norman, but clams up when the time comes to tell that Stanley knocked him into the shelf. There’s no point in trying to spare his friend, because Jennifer stands up and spills all the beans. She even tells the judge all about Merlin’s experiments in hypnotism and Norman’s abuse of Stanley. Encouraged, Merlin divulges his plans to, and I quote, “develop a race of super-chimps to give man a competition in the brain department, that would result in everybody’s being better off.” Um…. what?!

Merlin’s descent into Batman villainy earns Judge Holmsby’s sympathy for some reason and he dismisses the case. Clearly Merlin never meant to harm Norman and Norman kinda had it coming anyway. Before he leaves the courthouse, though, Holmsby whispers to Merlin that he really wants Merlin to stop by his house for a minute after school. Text is not sufficient to tell you just how creepy the way he whispers is. It’s really, really uncomfortable, but Merlin does it with Jennifer outside to perform that all-important function of waiting in the car. Yeah, get used to that.

Why do they refuse to let Annette actually do anything?

Luckily, this is a Disney movie, so Holmsby’s reasons for bringing Merlin to his home in the middle of the night aren’t entirely nefarious. Merlin’s hypnosis theories gave him inspiration for a new book, and he’s dying to learn more about them to make sure his plot is as realistic as possible. Unfortunately, that plot involves hypnotizing an honest man into committing crimes, but most experts agree that that’s impossible. The keyword here is most. There are some who think it might be possible, and that’s worth looking into. The judge begs Merlin to hypnotize him into committing a “little white crime” to test this theory, which seems excessive for a fiction book but this guy goes really hard I guess.

What could possibly go wrong? Before Merlin even really knows what he agreed to, he puts Holmsby into the trance. He orders him to steal a chimpanzee because that’s no big deal, right? He’ll never do it anyway, so he leaves and tells Jennifer all about how he hypnotized Holmsby. Just as he gets ready to drive away, Jennifer spots the judge leaving his house and acting all shifty. Sure enough, he sneaks into the psychology lab, and by the time Merlin and Jennifer get there Stanley has disappeared. They try to confront the judge but, per Merlin’s orders, he knows nothing, and Stanley punches Merlin out to let them get away. Who would ever have guessed this hare-brained scheme would go poorly?

And then this happens.

Yeah. In 1964, they couldn’t show a husband and wife in the same bed but they could show a man and a chimp. All righty, then. Merlin climbs up the side of the house and breaks in to see that, then gently leads Stanley out of the room and away from the compromising situation. Once he’s safely in the car, they head back to the psych lab to bring him home to his cage. Suprise! Cops spring out to arrest Merlin for stealing the chimp, egged on by a gloating Norman. Just hours later, Jennifer visits him in jail, completely freaking out at the thought of her beloved spending life in prison. But it’s okay, Merlin has an idea. He may have ordered the judge to forget everything, but if he hypnotizes him again, he can reach into his unconsciousness. They just need to be subtle, that’s all.

Subtle, apparently, means waving his hands like crazy while Jennifer plays kazoo behind a napkin. It takes a pair of eagle eyes to notice something like that in court, let me tell you. Somehow Judge Holmsby notices and forces them to knock it off, leaving Merlin without a plan or even a believable alibi. All he can do is call a witness, so he calls Stanley to testify. The judge has had it up to here with Merlin’s nonsense so he lectures him for wasting his time, but Merlin has a very important point to make. Sure, Stanley can’t testify in the traditional way but he can completely freak out when Norman tries to touch him, proving once and for all that Norman is abusive. The judge orders Norman removed from his position as chimp keeper, but that’s not really the point. The point is, as far as anyone can prove, Merlin stole the chimp, so the judge punishes him to sixty days of a suspended sentence, to be served by checking in with him every week.

Seems pretty lenient to me.

Always indignant, Jennifer leaps to her feet to yell that the judge stole Stanley, not Merlin! Apparently the judge does remember asking to be hypnotized, so he calls the kids into the privacy of his office to get the truth. They admit that Merlin did hypnotize him into committing a crime, just like the judge asked. This proves one of two things. Either the well-established hypothesis that no one can be hypnotized into doing something they think is immoral is wrong… or the judge isn’t as moral and upstanding as everyone thinks. He takes that idea really, really well and decides that crime isn’t committed by “bad” people, it’s committed by desperate people. That’s pretty deep, and an assertion that I’m sure more qualified people than me should do some debating on.

However, I don’t want to start examining morality right now. I poked enough bears in the last review, so let’s finish this puppy off. Not only does the judge agree to let Merlin off, but he promises to pull some strings to give Merlin Norman’s old job. He even admits that Merlin’s theory about chimps’ intelligence rivalling humans might hold some water. So, you know, watch out Gotham City. He might just be right, because when they turn around Stanley seems to be reading one of Lex Fortis’s books with some help from Jennifer. Everyone shares a good laugh in true ‘60s TV show fashion, and Jennifer and Merlin drive off to their happy ending.

Everything’s just so funny!

Oh, man, was this movie cheesy. Like, I know that’s a product of the time, but this film was far from the best work we’ve seen from Tommy Kirk or Annette Funicello. I had to agree with the critics that the comedy fell very flat, mostly because I’ve seen almost every gag here in either The Absent Minded Professor or The Shaggy Dog. It was all very derivitive. All in all, it was pretty inoffensive (barring a few little moments like the kiss at the end of the class), but hardly as engaging or funny as it was meant to be. It would probably have been fine, if forgettable, as a television show, but as a film there’s just too much “been there, done that.”

CHARACTERS

Merlin Jones himself perfectly illustrates what I’m getting at. He’s literally just Ned Brainard, except as a college student instead of a professor. The only difference is in the way he treats his girlfriend (which is a good thing, don’t get me wrong). Obsessive? Check. Imaginative? Check. Misunderstood? Check. I did like him more than Ned, as I mentioned, but that’s because Tommy Kirk has an earnestness that Fred Macmurray lacks. Speaking of, this was supposed to be Kirk’s last Disney movie because he’s gay and the studio’s really conservative, and he’d been caught in a relationship with a boy. Disney fired him at the wrap party, which seems a little harsh. However, Merlin Jones was so successful that Disney called Kirk back to make a sequel. If I were him I would have been like “screw you” but money talks I guess. We’ll talk about the happy ending to this unfortunate moment in Disney history when we get to The Monkey’s Uncle.

Jennifer doesn’t get a whole lot to do other than wait in the car and defend her boyfriend’s poor decisions, but at least she’s not as insulting as Betsy. I loved the way she always had Merlin’s back. It’s always nice seeing a solid, supportive relationship, especially in one of these comedies where all the humor comes from misunderstandings and interpersonal conflict. Annette Funicello’s contract was also due to be terminated, but again, they had to go and make a sequel.

Judge Holmsby alternates between reasonable authority figure and reckless knowledge seeker so fast it made my head spin. One minute he’s scolding Merlin for distracting other drivers, the next he’s begging to be allowed to steal a chimp. It’s so inconsistent. Also, the twist with him being an author was really obvious, though he doesn’t do himself any favors when his obsession with realism drives him to do everything as suspiciously as possible. One thing I will say for him is that Leon Ames seems to be having a lot more fun with this role than he did as President Dagget in The Absent-Minded Professor and Son of Flubber.

MUSIC

Like its two predecessors, the score for Merlin Jones is very light, mostly comprised of quirky little clarinet trills. The music here functions very similarly to a laugh track, making it more annoying and manipulative than actually functional. I was particularly stunned at how much this score has in common with the Flubber series and The Shaggy Dog, because it wasn’t written by George Bruns, but Buddy Baker.

The Merlin Jones Theme Song fares better, thanks to the Sherman Brothers’ whimsical flare. However, while the melody is fine, the lyrics are kind of hit or miss. “Scrambled egghead” is a really great pun that perfectly describes our main character, and I love the two-word rhyme trick they use in “girl in love with Merlin”. The Frankenstein reference feels kind of out of place to me, especially because it confuses the monster with the scientist which is a big pet peeve of this horror lit fan. It’s a dumb little thing, though, and on the whole, the them song is one of the best things about the film. Fun fact: Annette’s signature vocals are joinde here by one of Disneyland’s own musical acts, a harmony quartet called The Yachtsmen.

ARTISTRY

I’m sure you’re getting tired of me saying it but Disney recycled sets from, you guessed it, The Shaggy Dog and the Flubber movies. In fact, Edward Colman visibly and noticably recycled whole shots from his previous work. This isn’t the first time Disney has recycled sets when trying to save money, but it’s very noticable, mostly because everything about this movie feels like reheated leftovers. You can tell these sets were meant to be seen in black and white, with their high contrast and sharp lines. I get that the studio was otherwise engaged at this point, but it does a real disservice to this film that’s already an afterthought.

THEME PARK INFLUENCE

This is a weird one. First of all, I really should have put it in The Shaggy Dog. Secondly, I thought it was a reference to a completely different movie. I didn’t realize The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes and Merlin Jones were different films until, like, now. However, next to that big old ode to obscurity on the sad shell of Journey Into Imagination is a little sign with nameplates mentioning several live-action Disney scientists. One of them is, you guessed it, our favorite scrambled egghead, Merlin Jones! The queue has a reference to Merlin, too, as an exasperated receptionist for the ride’s Imagination Institute calls out “Merlin Jones, attention Merlin Jones, your monkey is on the loose in the Touch Lab and is disrupting the tickle testing.  Everyone is going ape.  Please come and get him.” For such a lackluster and hated ride, Imagination sure is full of Disney history!

FINAL THOUGHTS

There’s a reason people know certain things as “Disney tropes”. Elements like funny animals, misunderstood protagonists, and crazy misunderstandings show up all the time. None of this is in and of itself a bad thing. When everything from the plot to the characters to the sets to the actors is regurgitated wholesale from previous movies to the point where I can see entire shots from those other movies, though, that becomes dull. Merlin Jones is fine, but it brings absolutely nothing new to the table in terms of Disney or fiction in general.

Favorite scene: I don’t know if it’s because I watched it at like 2 am but “A race of super-chimps” made me laugh unreasonably hard. That is not a normal thing to work towards!

Final rating: 5/10. It would have worked if the rumored television show had happened, but as a film it’s squarely middle of the road.

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Published by The Great Disney Movie Ride

I'm a sassy snarky salt bucket lucky enough to live in Orlando, Florida. I've had a lifelong interest in the Walt Disney Company and the films and theme park attractions they've created. I've now made it a goal to go down their Wikipedia page and watch every animated AND live action film they've ever made. Can I do it? How many of them will make me go completely mad? Only time will tell....

3 thoughts on “The Misadventures of Merlin Jones (1964)

    1. I understand (supposedly) why they did it, but it still feels weird, like returning to the package films. Hypnotism would be the coolest major ever, wouldn’t it?
      It’s always a delight to hear Annette singing. Even when her characters don’t get much to do, her theme songs are always a treat!

      Liked by 1 person

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