Professor Beware
Original theatrical poster
Directed byElliott Nugent
Written byScreenplay:
Delmer Daves
Jack Cunningham
Clyde Bruckman
Produced byHarold Lloyd
StarringHarold Lloyd
CinematographyArchie Stout
Edited byDuncan Mansfield
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • June 29, 1938 (1938-06-29)
Running time
93 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$796,385[2]

Professor Beware is a 1938 comedy film starring Harold Lloyd and directed by Elliott Nugent. It was Phyllis Welch MacDonald's first and only film.


Three thousand years after ancient Egyptian Neferus's death, Professor Dean Lambert (who looks like Neferus) is translating his history tablet by tablet. Dean is convinced that falling in love will ruin him as it did Neferus, whose love to the Pharaoh's daughter led to his downfall. He meets aspiring actress and heiress Jane Van Buren and exchanges clothes with her drunk audition partner, Snoop Donlan. Dean is arrested for stinking of liquor. His arrest makes the papers and he is asked to resign from the museum staff. Dean has ten days to join an expedition leaving for Egypt from New York and becomes a stowaway in the trailer of a pair of newlyweds bound for Niagara Falls. Snoop then accuses Dean of stealing his watch and clothes. Jane, meanwhile, follows the trailer in order to return Dean's clothes and the museum's car. The newlyweds kick Dean out, while the police trail him on suspicion of robbery and jumping bail. Jane then finds Dean and urges him to clear himself, but he convinces her to keep going to New York. While fleeing the police, Jane and Dean camp in the desert, and he falls in love and kisses her. The kiss causes a storm to break, just like the story of Neferus and Anebi. Dean is struck by lightning and begins speaking in a strange language.

The next day, he leaves Jane a note saying that "Death lies ahead" if they continue their romance. After many adventures, Sheriff Sweat of Springville, Pennsylvania, finally apprehends Dean, but Jane picks him up in the museum car, which is discovered by the police. A chase ensues. While hiding in the woods, the couple discusses the eighth tablet of Neferus, which says "marriage." After hopping a refrigerator car, the couple is brought before a kindly judge, who dismisses the charges brought against them so that they can marry. The papers print that Jane is to marry a hobo. Dean wants to avoid making his bad luck worse, but he marries Jane in New York. He then must face her father, who accuses him of being a fortune hunter. Dr. Ellison, head of the expedition, gives Dean a fake missing fragment of the ninth and last tablet for a wedding present, which Jane has inscribed with the story of Neferus saving Anebi from her father, who has abducted her. Dean boards what he believes is the Van Burens' yacht and fights for his bride, destroying the yacht, to the delight of Van Buren, who now accepts him. Jane then realizes Dean fought for her knowing the tablet was fake. The couple is united and, years later, as an old man, Dean finally finds the real ninth tablet, which assures him he is not going to die tomorrow.



Leonard Maltin described it as "One of Lloyd's last vehicles has good moments, but tale of archeologist searching for rare tablet is thin."[citation needed]


  1. ^ Vance, Jeffrey and Suzanne Lloyd. "Harold Lloyd: Master Comedian" New York: Harry N Abrams. p 191
  2. ^ Vance, Jeffrey and Suzanne Lloyd. "Harold Lloyd: Master Comedian" New York: Harry N Abrams. p 191