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Unidentified Flying Oddball

Dennis Dugan , Jim Dale , Russ Mayberry    G (General Audience)   DVD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Mark Twain's wit was oft demonstrated in his short stories and novels, and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court certainly qualifies as one of his most popular. The tale's so well-liked that various renditions--including a musical comedy, an animated Bugs Bunny version, and two kid pics--have been turned into films and telefilms (many of which should be considered "inspired by" instead of straight translations). This Disney film takes the basics of Twain's charmer and turns it into the story of a scientist whose twin-looking humanoid will be the first to try out a faster-than-the-speed-of-light rocket ship. When the humanoid becomes afraid, the scientist climbs on board to comfort it and the ship accidentally rockets off--and into King Arthur's Camelot. Dennis Dugan, an underrated comic actor (best remembered as Richie Brockelman introduced on The Rockford Files), is the likable lead, as well as his robotic alter ego. Ron Moody is a wickedly creepy Merlin, Kenneth More is an elegant, if older, King Arthur, and English actress Sheila White (Oliver!) is a sweet Alisande. Despite its 1979 production date, the film has a surprisingly timeless look. Certainly, the low-budget technology can't compare to today's CGI miracles, but this film is more about ingenuity and resourcefulness, and it gets those messages across well. --N.F. Mendoza

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Most helpful customer reviews
What a joy to find old disney movies released on DVD and in widescreen:) I just discvered THE BLACK HOLE as well also a disney CLASSIC of long ago, when special efects were invented 1st by Disney at every turn. Plus I love Dennis Dugan, you can just take so much of the same disney dudes over and over in the same roles. He is a refreshing change. And the Disney animtronics, that they were so famous for, like Abe Lincoln and the Teeky Teeky Room. BUY THIS One for your Disney collection. I am on a quest for all Disney Vintage movies for my DVD collection, and all the old classics, from Aladdin to Winnie the Pooh. Check out my More about Me page in the near future and you can help me come up with more titles that I have missed and I can help you out with your thirst for "The Happiest Place on Earth" :) When you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are. When you wish upon a star your dreams come true :)
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Disney Favorite! July 6 2002
I have always loved Disney movies and this is one of my favorites. I watch it over and over and enjoy it everytime.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Disney Live Action Comedy Hijinks Oct. 28 2000
Format:VHS Tape
I remember seeing this movie back in elementary school, and I still find it entertaining today. As the synopsis above states, the plot revolves around a "modern" day space explorer who gets catapulted back to the days of King Arthur. The comedy is derived from the strange predicaments in which Dugan finds himself (the old fish-out-of-water ploy). The movie is one of Disney's better live-action comedies. Since much of the comedy is of the zany, slapstick variety the movie has aged well, and is still humorous twenty years later. The style of comedy is similar to what one finds in other Disney comedies such as the Love Bug. My six year old loves it. If you're a collector of Disney movies definitely add this one to your library.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Despite the age... Dec 14 1999
Format:VHS Tape
Despite the fact that the movie is pretty old for movies today, it is still a very entertaining movie.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  15 reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "We have seen the awesome power of your magic candle!" April 22 2005
By cookieman108 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Based off the Mark Twain novel `A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court', Unidentified Flying Oddball (1979) aka The Spaceman and King Arthur, may not have been one of the more popular live action Disney films of the past, but I liked it for a number of reason which I'll talk about later...the film, written by Don Tait (Hell's Angels '69, The Apple Dumpling Gang), was directed by Russ Mayberry, who primarily worked in the medium of television directing on shows like "Bewitched", "I Dream of Jeannie", "That Girl", "The Brady Bunch", "The Partridge Family", "The Rockford Files", along with many others, but did find time to do a few films, including this one. Starring in the film is Dennis Dugan (The Howling, Problem Child, Happy Gilmore), Sheila White (Confessions from a Holiday Camp), Ron Moody, whom many will recognize as the dastardly character Fagin in the 1968 film Oliver!, and Jim Dale, a fixture in the British `Carry On...' film series. Also appearing is Kenneth More (Sink the Bismarck!), John Le Mesurier (I'm All Right Jack, Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe?), Rodney Bewes (Jabberwocky), and Pat Roach, whom you may have never heard of, but surely have seen in any one of his villain roles like in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) - he played two roles in that film, one being the big Sherpa in the bar and another as the mechanic/brawler, the character of Lippe (he fought Bond in the health spa) in the James Bond film Never Say Never Again (1983), the chief guard in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), and skeleton masked General Kael in Willow (1988), to name a few.

The story begins as we see a group at NASA discussing a new project featuring a shuttle called Stardust that has the ability to travel faster than any previous ship. There's a bunch of scientific mumbo jumbo presented, but the gooberment officials are reluctant to approve sending humans up in an untested craft (it's an election year), so scientific brain boy Tom Trimble (Dugan) is tasked to build a humanoid robot to pilot the ship, which he does (in his own image), but the robot, named Hermes, was apparently made too human, and is afraid to make the 30 year trip. Trimble, in an effort to convince Hermes that everything will be all right, gets caught in the shuttle during an accidental launch, and both end up in orbit. The ship does what it was designed to do (traveling faster than the speed of light), subsequently travels back in time, and, on returning to Earth, Trimble discovers he's in 6th century England, specifically King Arthur's court at Camelot! Trimble meets a local girl named Alisande (White), and she believes him to be some sort of monster (in his spacesuit), despite his protests. Soon Trimble is captured by the rotter Sir Mordred (Gale), taken to Camelot and sentenced to death. It's around this time Trimble learns of Mordred's treacherous plans to overthrow King Arthur (More), and now must use his intelligence and wits to not only keep himself alive, but also prevent the despicable Mordred and his cronies from their foul machinations through.

First off I just want to say it felt good to watch a family friendly film that doesn't insinuate toilet humor into the story to get laughs...not that I mind that kind of thing, but it seems so much more prevalent nowadays for these types of films, geared towards general audiences, to rely on techniques of the lowest common denominator to try and entertain. As far as the story goes, it was very straightforward, and moved along well. Dugan seemed a decent choice for the role of Trimble (I guess Dean Jones and Kurt Russell, both frequent stars in Disney's mid 60's/early 70's live action pics, were busy on other projects), and he does well presenting pre-MacGyver like character who uses his intelligence to get out of sticky situations. As far as the others, my favorite was Dale as Sir Mordred. He did a wonderful job bringing his character to life, and could have easily been transposed to more serious films with respect to Arthurian legend despite being a bit over the top at times (what good villain isn't?) As far as the character of Merlin, played by Moody...I thought he also did very well, but the way the character was written seemed to go against most of what I think I know in the respect the Merlin here was not a very nice guy...and what was up with his hair? It looked like they shaved the top of Moody's head, giving him a horseshoe hair pattern, leaving a handle-like tuft at the very top....very weird...another character I enjoyed was that of Sir Gawain, played by Le Mesurier. The role wasn't very big, but incorporated a sort of subtle humor (a slight touch of that droll, British humor) that complemented the sequences he appeared in very well. The odd man out was that of King Arthur, played by More. He did all right, but he lacked the majestic qualities I normally associate with the character. It's not like he ruined the movie or anything, but he just seemed a little out of place. The sets and costumes were very good, relaying better than average production values, along with most of the special effects, although there is a sequence with Trimble in a flying rocket chair where the wires are plainly visible, but again, this wasn't something that ruined the film for me. My favorite sequence was the magnetized sword bit and I also liked how, through a good part of the film, Trimble was perceived by the 6th century inhabitants as not so much a dangerous threat, but sort of a pitiful oddity, one that might be better put out of his misery. I'm unsure how kids today, what with their Harry Potters and such, would receive a film like this, but for those of us who grew up in the 70's and 80's, this is a welcome trip back to simpler times.

The widescreen (1.85:1) picture, enhanced for 16 X 9 TVs, looks sharp, but there are some very minor signs of age deterioration in the film (nothing to get too hung up on). The Dolby Digital mono audio comes through clearly, and there are English subtitles available. There are no other special features.

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Disney Live Action Comedy Hijinks Oct. 28 2000
By J. Hudson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
I remember seeing this movie back in elementary school, and I still find it entertaining today. As the synopsis above states, the plot revolves around a "modern" day space explorer who gets catapulted back to the days of King Arthur. The comedy is derived from the strange predicaments in which Dugan finds himself (the old fish-out-of-water ploy). The movie is one of Disney's better live-action comedies. Since much of the comedy is of the zany, slapstick variety the movie has aged well, and is still humorous twenty years later. The style of comedy is similar to what one finds in other Disney comedies such as the Love Bug. My six year old loves it. If you're a collector of Disney movies definitely add this one to your library.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Spaceman in King Arthur's Court & Behind the Scenes trivia Nov. 3 2005
By microjoe - Published on Amazon.com
Format:VHS Tape
STORY: Unidentified Flying Oddball is short for U.F.O. of course. This live action film from the Walt Disney studio is the story of Tom Trimble the NASA astronaut (Dennis Dugan) and his robot Hermes. They have a newly designed faster than the speed of light spaceship called the "Stardust", that is hit by a lightening bolt in and knocks Tom back in time to the days of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Thinking he has traveled to another world, Tom leaves the craft in his spacesuit. Seeing him in this spacesuit the citizens think he is a monster or dragon and attack him, sending him to prison. After being imprisoned, Tom learns of a threat against the king from the nefarious Sir Mordred (Jim Dale) who wants to take the King's throne at Camelot for himself. Merlin (Ron Moody) is aiding Mordred in the scheme and is envious of Tom's modern scientific talents, since his own power is based on illusion. After Tom is released he begins to use technology to improve the kingdom, and along the way he develops a love interest with Alisande (Sheila White). Merlin and Sir Mordred join forces to attack the king, and Tom must help the Knights defend the King. There is some light romance, some action, and plenty of comedy. Note: For those people that are used to the kind and powerful Merlin character, be forewarned, this is an evil Merlin. All in all, good clean family fun.

BEHIND THE SCENES: Don Tate wrote the screenplay as a loose re-interpretation of the Mark Twain story, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. If the acting and productions seems at times like a 1970's TV sitcom, that may be the result of director Russ Mayberry, who worked on shows such as "I Dream of Jeannie", and "Bewitched". Shooting occurred on location in the United Kingdom with a production team formed to film exteriors at the real 11th century castle "Alnwick", and interiors at Pinewood Studios in England. At the castle's village, the producers hired 1,000 extras to be used in the film. The special effects crew was responsible for major challenges including the creation of the stardust spaceship with a working ramp, a moon buggy that expands to double its size, and a robot arm. Additionally they had to come up with a flying jetpack, a robot, spacesuits, a magnetized sword, and space guns. The promotional movie poster that Walt Disney studios used in the U.S. at the time had the tagline, "Chaos in the Cosmos". Running time is not long at 93 minutes.

The movie went through some inexplicable name changes during production and subsequent release. The working title during production was "A Spaceman in King Arthur's Court". By the time it was released in the United Kingdom it was retitled "The Spaceman and King Arthur" on July 10, 1979. Just weeks later it opened in U.S. theaters on July 26, 1979 under a third title, "Unidentified Flying Oddball". Promotional material and ads used a subtitle of "The Spaceman and King Arthur". When it aired on television's "The Wonderful World of Disney", on February 27 and March 6 1982 as two episodes, it was re-named to it's first working title as "A Spaceman in King Arthur's Court". When it was released on video for the first time in 1986, it was changed back again to "Unidentified Flying Oddball" in the US and the UK.

DVD version: The picture is in widescreen. It looks like they cleaned up the picture and color compared to my VHS version. The sound is still in Mono, but the film was made that way. Unfortunately there are no extras on the disc. It would have been nice to see a Disney cartoon, behind the scenes feature, the trailer, and maybe one of the old space based episodes from the Wonderful World of Disney television show, such as "Man in Space". Still with the cleaner picture, widescreen, and longer life of a disc, I recommend this as an upgrade to your VHS copy.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly a Cherished Memory, and Still Awesome Today! May 13 2013
By Monty Moonlight - Published on Amazon.com
In the 1979 Disney film, "The Unidentified Flying Oddball", also known by "The Spaceman in King Arthur's Court" and other titles, NASA scientist Tom Trimble is ordered to design an android to take an experimental, time traveling voyage via a rocket ship through space (since it was deemed too dangerous for a living passenger). Tom makes the robot identical to himself, and pretty remarkable by 70's standards. He even feels fear and an attraction to the opposite sex! Unfortunately, the robot, dubbed Hermes, becomes afraid to take part in the mission. When Tom comes aboard the spacecraft at the last minute to comfort him, well, you can guess what happens! Both of them end up traveling to the past, and they land smack dab in King Arthur's yard! Tom is soon taken prisoner, as he is believed to be some sort of demon or monster, and it's very hard to explain anything to these people! He fascinates them with his futuristic technology, and he does make some friends. However, Tom also makes some enemies, especially when he discovers a plot to overthrow King Arthur by the sinister duo of Merlin and Sir Morded. Luckily, Tom's modern technology may be the perfect match against Mordred and his army, with a lot of help from Hermes of course!

I will always remember seeing this movie on the bigscreen as a small child. It must have been a rerelease, or else I have a darn good memory since I was like 4 when this came out. Still, these 70's Disney flicks are some of my earliest film-going memories, even though the live-action comedies are often panned, they are some of my fondest memories too, and I still get a lot of enjoyment out of these films today! In fact, some of them I just don't get why people don't dislike so much! Yeah, they're silly and corny, but so what? There's actually a lot of good humor to them, and the stories are fun! There's a lot of great comedic acting in them too. Unidentified Flying Oddball, of course, is based on Mark Twain's story "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court", published under his real name, I believe (Samuel Clemens). But this, of course, is a very different take on the story, and a perfect film to watch before a trip to Disney World. I mean, it's Tomorrowland meets Fantasyland, and it's totally delightful. The cast is excellent, with Dennis Dugan in the role of Tom and Hermes, the great Ron Moody as Merlin, and a fave of mine, Jim Dale, as wicked Sir Mordred. There's a love story in here too, with Sheila White playing charmingly goofy peasant Alisande, who carries a gander around with her believing it is her father under a spell. The story is wacky and high energy, medieval times-like fun, with no worries about butterfly theories or any of that sort of trouble. The greatest quibble one should be able to find with this film is, well, during the rocket chair scenes, you can totally see the wires, ha. Like, really badly. But, it's easily ignored, as this movie is a hoot!

Unfortunately, the DVD offers no real bonus features. We can only say to ourselves, "Well, at least it looks great and is in enhanced widescreen." If all you're concerned with is the movie, this is a great release. Though, as a Disney fanatic, I would have loved to see it loaded with lots more. Trailers, commentary, a behind the scenes retrospective would all be great, but even just an episode of the Disney anthology series or some short cartoons with appropriately related themes would be nice (particularly material not already released in the Treasures sets or other Disney releases). Nevertheless, still just happy to finally have this one in my collection!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun when i was a kid and still fun now! May 23 2012
By Scott A. Marchiny - Published on Amazon.com
I remember seeing this when i was a kid, about 10-11, and enjoying it. Just recently saw it again and was surprised how well it held up over the years. Well done for an early Disney movie and decent humor in it for even adults. No eye popping CGI because it doesnt need any! Just a fun story that should hold most peoples attention young and old, and not overly long and boring at only 93 minutes. Took me back to my youth, loved it.
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