The Incredible Mr. Limpet (1964)

Article 2282 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 6-23-2007
Posting Date: 11-11-2007
Directed by Arthur Lubin
Featuring Don Knotts, Carole Cook, Jack Weston

A meek bookkeeper, frustrated by the fact that he can’t get into the navy and by a wife that doesn’t understand him, gets his fondest wish when he falls off a pier at Coney Island and is transformed into a fish. Then, when World War II breaks out, he decides to help the navy by locating Nazi u-boats.

Don Knotts was one of my favorite comedy actors when I was a kid, and this is perhaps the movie for which I most remember him. Of course, this was many years ago, and I often find that when I dig up childhood favorites for rewatching for these reviews, that I emerge disappointed. And, to be truthful, I fully expected this one to lose its allure. My expectations were indeed fulfilled, though I do feel the need to exempt Don Knotts himself from that disappointment; watching his movies as an adult, I’ve grown to really admire his acting ability, his subtlety, and his command of character-oriented comedy, and if, as I suspect, he never really gave us a movie that was an undisputed classic, it was because he never really found the perfect vehicle to do so. Being that Knotts himself only supplies a voice for most of the movie, it only has the full benefit of his talents while in his human form. The movie isn’t bad; it’s mildly entertaining, but timid and mostly unimaginative in its use of the concept, but I didn’t really expect more from director Arthur Lubin, who has plenty of experience with talking animals, as he directed most of the “Francis the talking mule” series, as well as a couple of episodes of “Mister Ed”. Still, it’s fun to see Jack Weston and Andrew Duggan in action, and Paul Frees has a lot of fun as the voice of Crusty. For me, the most interesting sequences in the movie were the scenes with the Germans; it eschews both subtitling and “English with a German accent”, instead relying on real German (with emphasis on words that are understandable in both English and German), and a kind of quasi-German lingo that uses a smattering of English words. You don’t have to know German to understand these sequences, and these scenes show a real imagination to them.



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