The Ghost and Mr. Chicken (1966)

Article 3464 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 12-31-2010
Posting Date: 2-7-2011
Directed by Alan Rafkin
Featuring Don Knotts, Joan Staley, Liam Redmond
Country: USA
What it is: Haunted house comedy

A timid typesetter, aspiring to become a reporter, agrees to spend the night in a mansion that was the site of murders several years ago, and is now believed to be haunted.

The idea of a comedy star appearing in a haunted house comedy was certainly nothing new at the time, and this could have easily ended up being just another in a long tradition. Fortunately, the movie foregoes the usual plot mechanisms of that type of movie and gears the story to take advantage of Don Knotts’s strengths. When his character makes an embarrassing mistake, it’s not for the sole purpose of getting a laugh, because the movie shows the repercussions of that embarrassment, and we feel his pain and frustration at his self-awareness, and this gets us emotionally attached to his character. The haunted house scene that is the centerpiece of the movie is fairly short; most of the movie deals with the fallout of the story of his stay, and the eventual need to prove to all concerned that what he experienced wasn’t merely the result of an overactive imagination. Overall, the story doesn’t really hold up, but when you get down to it, the story is merely a springboard to use the talents of Don Knotts, and he does his usual very good job.


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