The Ghost and Mr. Chicken
Jul 12, 2017 | by Jessika Loucks
Who Done It?
Don Knotts hasn’t got a clue in this hilarious murder mystery. The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, a silly play on the 1947 film The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, is Knott’s first film after leaving The Andy Griffith Show.
There are lots of cameos by The Andy Griffith Show characters in this film, most notably Hal Smith playing the town drunk as he did as Otis Campbell in Andy Griffith. The film did great at the opening, making it Knott’s first smash hit under Universal and the #1 top grossing movie of the week!
“Atta boy, Luther” – Man in the audience
The mystery starts right away with a fun musical theme and a man getting hit on the head and falling to the ground. We are first introduced to Luther Heggs (Don Knotts) a local newspaper man, who quickly finds himself in the middle of a possible murder scene.
Luther, excited that he has a scoop for the paper, rushes to the police station where he begins to describe the awful details of what happened in front of the Simmons Mansion (which is supposedly haunted). When the murder victim and the victim’s wife walk into the police room correcting the details of alleged murder, Luther becomes the laughing stock of the town.
It is after this unfortunate mistake that we learn that Luther is indeed not a reporter at the local newspaper Rachel Courier Express, but is a typesetter who lives at the boarding house in town and dreams of being an on-the-scene reporter.
Enter Ollie Weaver (Homeier), Luther’s competition in every way. A real reporter at the newspaper and boyfriend to the beautiful Alma Parker (Joan Staley) Ollie gives Luther a hard time, mocking him in front of everyone constantly.
When Luther sees his chance to become a real reporter, he takes it – choosing to stay the night in the old “haunted” Simmons Mansion where a murder took place 20 years earlier. The clock is ticking as the owner, Nicholas Simmons, plans to tear it down. With mysterious happenings, twists and turns, secret staircases and eerie noises, we are taken through a series of hilarious mishaps.
Will Luther uncover what really happened the night of the Simmons Mansion murder? Will he get the girl that’s just out of his reach? And the biggest question: will he ever become a real reporter for the Rachel Courier?
“Calm? Do “murder” and “calm” go together? Calm and murder?” – Luther Heggs
The Comedy!! It’s no surprise that this film is packed with hilarious scenes and fantastic one liners. Knotts does a fabulous job as the jumpy, high strung Luther Heggs.
The plot moves along at a nice pace, never feeling like its lagging with amazing humor and mystery that keeps you guessing. Also, the acting is top-notch (as expected) and the supporting characters play their parts well, adding to the comedy and helping to round out a fun film.
“And they used Bon Ami!” – Mrs. Cobb
My only complaint with this film is the Latin chanting and talk of spirit vibrations by one of the main characters Mrs. Maxwell (Reta Shaw) and her women’s club.
Thankfully these scenes are brief but may bother some viewers. I would also like to mention that some of the scenes in the Simmons house, though hilarious to adults, may frighten younger children.
So will you laugh yourself silly? The answer is yes! If the one liners don’t get you rolling, watching Knotts do what he does best with slapstick will have you busting a seam. This has to be my favorite Don Knotts Character beside Barny Fife in The Andy Griffith Show, his facial expressions and bumbling demeanor make the whole film.
My vote? Take out a few scenes and you have yourself a fun movie night experience!