Wednesday, May 15, 2024

The Innovative Adventures of Tom Swift

Tom Swift was a brilliant young inventor featured in a series of juvenile science fiction and adventure novels.  Swift utilized his fantastic inventions to escape the hazards that he confronted in his travels.  The book series ran from 1910 to 2022.

Walt Disney was a big fan of the Swift books as a boy.  He considered adapting the books into a television serial in the 1950s.  Eventually, he abandoned the idea as he realized a series that featured Swift’s dazzling inventions and exotic voyages would be too expensive to produce.  One of Disney’s good friends, Jack Wrather, figured that he might be able to bring Swift to television within budget constraints.  In 1958, he had several scripts written and produced a pilot film.  The networks rejected the pilot.

Tommy Kirk in The Misadventures of Merlin Jones (1964)

Disney likely had Swift in mind when he made The Absent-Minded Professor.  The influence of the Swift books is further evident in Disney's "Merlin Jones" and "Dexter Riley" films, both of which feature the amazing adventures of a boy inventor.
Joyce Menges and Kurt Russell in Now You See Him, Now You Don't (1972)

Tom went on adventures with his father, Barton Swift, who was also an inventor and served as the boy’s mentor.  Barton Swift was replaced in later novels by Uncle Tom, a friend of the family and also the father of Tom's girlfriend.  

The boy inventor and his guardians bear more than a passing resemblance to Marty McFly and Doc Brown of the Back to the Future films. 

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