Monday, December 7, 2009

'The Ghost and Mr. Chicken'
delivers a few chills along with with laughter

The Ghost and Mr. Chicken (1966)
Starring: Don Knotts, Joan Staley, Liam Redmond, Dick Sargent and Skip Homier
Director: Alan Rafkin
Rating: Eight of Ten Stars

When the timid typesetting at small-town newspaper (Knotts) has a shot at acheiving his dream of becoming a reporter by spending the night in a local haunted house, his tale of the ghostly manifestations turn him into a local hero, gets him the respect of his boss (Sargent), a chance to romance the girl of his dreams (Staley) and show up a bullying co-worker (Homier). But when he is later challenged to show others the haunting, everything is quiet and he may lose everything. What is going on in the Murder House?

"The Ghost and Mr. Chicken" is a great family movie that should entertain young kids and adults equally. While Don Knotts is best in small doses, the story here of the sweet nerd who comes out ahead should appeal to everyone.

The cast is good, with Knotts, Sargent, and Redmond (whose turn as the strangely manipulative janitor provides some of the films most puzzling and funny moments, until the Big Revelation occurs) being particularly good. Staley is a bit of a dead spot, but she's only here to be the Cute, Sensitive Love Interest, so her apparent limited ability doesn't harm the film much. The soundtrack is also good, featuring a single theme used in different enough ways that it doesn't become repetitive, and which manages to both be small-townish, funny, and spooky all at once.

The only real complaint I have with the film is that the director and technical crew should have spent a little more time on lighting. The night and day shots are lit the same way, and the house and grounds are no where near as spooky as they should be, due to the flat lighting throughout.

Still, it's an entertaining, good-natured film that's worth your time. Check it out.

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