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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Movie #22: The Ghost and Mr. Chicken (1966)

"Atta boy, Luther!"

Happy 10/10/10 day, everyone! Here's a hilarious film that's appropriate for just about anyone. If your kids liked "The Incredible Mr. Limpet", they'll probably love "The Ghost and Mr. Chicken". They certainly don't make them like this anymore.


  • Rating: Not Rated

  • Minimum Recommended Age: 7 (Kaboose: Ages 7 and up)

  • Quality Rating: 68.5% (Parent Previews Overall Grade: B, Rotten Tomatoes rating: 6.2)

  • Number of Lists Recommend: 3

  • Sex/Violence/Profanity: From IMDB: The haunted house scene may be scary to younger children. There is a scene in the haunted house where a picture of a woman is stabbed in the throat with garden shears. Blood is shown. (This is the only scene with blood.)

  • Running Time: 90 minutes

  • What does it have to do with Halloween? Nothing


Luther Heggs aspires to being a reporter for his small town newspaper, the Rachel Courier Express. He gets his big break when the editor asks him to spend the night at the Simmons mansion that, 20 years before, was the site of a now famous murder-suicide. The case has aroused local interest not only because of the anniversary but due to the fact that the family heir, Nick Simmons, has returned to Rachel aiming to tear the mansion down. Luther's account of his wild, ghost-ridden night in the house leads Simmons to sue for libel, but with the aid of his friend Kelsey they determines what exactly happened that night long ago and the identity of the real killer.

Watch Out For

If you want to nit-pick, Parent Previews has these concerns:
"Man is hit with a fence post and presumed dead. Many characters scream when they are scared. Slapstick antics include bumbling, minor injuries, and reckless driving. Characters are threatened by karate moves, and gardening sheers. Tale of murder and suicide is told. Blood is shown on a portrait and on the keys of an organ. Some characters use verbal threats and coercion. Woman used as hostage. Characters scuffle. Male characters are overly attentive to some female character’s attire. Embarrassment follows after the mention of "bosoms." Kisses are exchanged between male and female characters." (ed.: kids, close your eyes)

Talk About It

Parent Previews:
"Luther is dared into spending the night in the haunted house. What factors do you think influenced his decision to accept the challenge? Was this an example of facing fear and discovering true potential, or simply buckling to peer pressure? How do you tell the difference between challenges that should be accepted and a poor idea that should be walked away from?

What classic techniques does the movie use to create suspense and fear?"

Of Note

  • Andy Griffith, Knotts' costar on "The Andy Griffith Show", suggested expanding on an episode from the television show involving a deserted house (the old Rimshaw house in the episode "Haunted House" aired Oct. 1963) in which Barney, Gomer, and Andy retrieve a baseball of Opie and his friend from the house. The old house is a cover for a still in the cellar run by moonshiner big Jack Anderson, an aquaintance of Otis Campbell (the town drunk). In order to keep the still from being detected, the still operator scares off anyone who enters by making ghostly sounds, making an axe appear to be floating in mid air, knocking on walls and looking upon them through eye holes in old man Rimshaw's portrait above the fireplace. This episode was considered one of Knotts' best in his comedic ability to show fear, and was believed to be the inspiration behind Knotts' idea for his first picture ("The Ghost and Mr. Chicken") after signing a multi-picture contract with Universal Pictures two years later after leaving the Andy Griffith show.
  • Don Knotts personally called the Bon Ami company president to get permission to mention the cleaning product's name in one of the film's running gags.
  • Joan Staley, Knotts' love interest in the movie, is perhaps best known for being Playboy magazine's Playmate of the Month for its November 1958 issue. Normally a blonde, she had to wear a dark wig because the producers felt she was "too sexy" as a blonde.
  • This film inspired a short-lived craze for yelling out "Attaboy, (name)" during speeches and other situations. This came from a running gag used in this film.
  • The Simmons House was originally built on Universal's Stage 12 for the 1946 film, "So Goes My Love". Two of these houses were moved in 1950 to Universal's new Colonial Street. The one used in this film, called the "Allison House", was also used in the film "Harvey" (1950), portions of it appeared in "Psycho" (1960), and it can now be seen on "Desperate Housewives". The other house, called the "Maxim House", was later used in the series "The Munsters". They are now located on Universal's Wisteria Lane.


"The Ghost and Mr. Chicken" airs on Turner Classic Movies on November 16. Better late than never!


Watch It

Part 1 (embedding has been disbabled for Part 1, but you can watch the other parts below)


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