Andy Griffith Show memories led Don Knotts to ''The Ghost and Mr. Chicken''

Here's how the iconic show informed the hit movie!

CBS Television Distribution

Don Knotts' work on The Andy Griffith Show is so indelible that it's easy to overlook his movie roles. Barney Fife is such an iconic character that any career would've peaked in Mayberry. But rather than rest on his laurels, Knotts instead put together an impressive filmography, starring in upwards of 25 feature films. 

1996, one of the funniest of those films, The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, saw a resurgence in popularity when it was released on home video for the first time. Fans had anticipated the release for years, and the VHS arrival allowed an entirely new group of viewers the chance to see the movie for the first time.

Don Knotts, for his part, seemed just as excited as his rabid fans. In a phone interview with The Tennessean, Knotts reflected on the movie's production and what it meant for his career.

"The whole thing was a very productive experience for me, all the way around. I got the idea for the picture when I remembered an episode [from The Andy Griffith Show] that had Andy and Jim Nabors and I in this haunted house. I thought that would probably be a good idea to start with. It was a tough picture to write. We had to make it a mystery and a comedy."

It's no wonder, then, that the movie came out so great. The episode Knotts referred to, "The Haunted House," from The Andy Griffith Show's fourth season, is one of the series' best-remembered episodes. To this day, it's frequently cited among fans' favorite episodes.

The Ghost and Mr. Chicken saw Knotts in the role of a paper typesetter who must spend the night in a haunted house for a 20th-anniversary story about a murder that took place there.

"I was really proud of it," said Knotts. "From beginning of script to end of production it was a hard-fought battle. Like most pictures, when you make the movie you wonder if people are actually gonna like it. By the time you finish it, you lose your objectivity. I remember after watching it in the screening room, we just stared at each other."

He could've left the fear onscreen though, as the movie proved to be a hit upon its release in 1966.

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16 Comments

Mark112763 1 month ago
The Ghost And Mr.Chicken is my favorite of Don Knotts feature films and has become one of my Halloween staples and wouldn't seem like Halloween without it... 👻🎃
JHP 1 month ago
remember "we call barney the chicken" - :)
LoveMETV22 1 month ago
See from the schedule and from promos
"Return to Mayberry" is going to air on
May 5th, but also the episode of
" The Danny Thomas Show" where Danny meets Andy. Wonder if Weigel has that series in their library? It would be a good alternative to M*A*S*H. Seems the
Danny Thomas Show had plenty of seasons.
BorisK 1 month ago
LOVE G&MC. I remember in the 1960s in Los Angeles when it came out we saw it 1st on a Friday night, TWICE the next day and my brother and I snuck back on Sunday for a 4th. At school on Monday everyone was saying 'Atta Boy Luther' to everyone. It was a huge hit. To this day its a blast to watch and full of such great, subtle humor, in addition to all the broad comedy.
dm1bellamy 1 month ago
Loved that movie! Reminds me of the haunted house episode from Andy Griffith show
MC1707 1 month ago
The GHOSTAND Mr Chicken and The Incredible Mr Limpet are his best pictures for me.
GOOSEYGOOSE9 1 month ago
I like Don Knotts in the incredible mr.limpet.better than in series three’s company.
MichaelPowers 1 month ago
Obviously the "Mr. Chicken" in the title of Don's film refers to Luther Heggs. And yet, look how brave Luther really is throughout the movie.
He is a typesetter at the Rachel Courier, but he dares to write an article about the Simmons murder mansion, with the encouragement of Mr. Kelsey.
He does spend the night in the mansion alone on the anniversary date of the murders.
He gives a speech at the picnic honoring him. Public speaking is a tremendous fear that many people have.
He asks his crush out on a date, the beautiful Alma.
He stands up to Nick Simmons & his lawyer.
Yes, Luther was hilariously a nervous wreck over all these incidents in his life. However, he faced every single one of them head on in his own way. There's no Mr. Chicken here that I can see.
Good points Michael.
It's also a key to Barney Fife. He's a small scared man but in the end he girds his loins
and rises to the occasion no matter the odds.
Witness when he keeps dancing around Alan Hale demanding he fight him over Thelma
Lou.
MrsPhilHarris 1 month ago
I love that movie.
I agree. When it came out my friends and I sat thru two showings, we just loved it.
I don't have the link anymore but a European movie site had two mavens who adored
the film, one maintaining it was the best evocation of the mythical American heartland
that he had seen.
I have to agree in regards to the town picnic and the guy who kept saying "Atta boy Luther".
It was exactly like Fourth of July celebrations we had attended in Kansas and Illinois at the
time, just spot on. They wouldn't do it but college film appreciation classes should take
a look at this film. Everything works, the comedy and the scares, they all ring true and
the humor isn't forced, it's organic and comes from the characters and the time and
place. The very first shot of the film establishes the setting, at the town limits we see the signs
such as for the Lions Club, you can't get more civic minded/love thy neighbor than that.
You are right. From the get-go it works. And I live the old mansion with the spider webs, the creepy picture on the wall and the organ. I can smell the dust! I feel like a kid when I watch it. I would love to see it in a theatre.
harlow1313 1 month ago
I enjoy the film, but it has always been obvious that it is an extended TAGS without AG. It's even set in Mayberry, named differently.

Luther is an idiot, but still scores the good looking chick. Atta-boy Luther!!
McGillahooala 1 month ago
Great Andy Griffith Show episode and great movie. They always seemed very similar to me but I never heard about the link until now.
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