Ranking the top 5 Don Knotts movies
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of 'The Ghost and Mr. Chicken,' we count down a handful of Knotts comedies.
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Today marks the fiftieth anniversary of The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, Don Knotts' follow-up to The Incredible Mr. Limpet and the second film to headline the comedian in the mid-1960s. By that time, Knotts had left the main reoccurring cast of The Andy Griffith Show, as Barney Fife made his last appearance as a regular character in the spring of 1965, at the end of the series' black & white run.
Though Knotts had appeared in a few movies prior, Andy established the actor a comedy superstar. In his two decades following the sitcom, Knotts churned out dozens of comedies, primarily for Disney and Universal, which ranged from the silly to the surreal to spoofs. Long before Air Bud came around, Knotts was starring alongside a football-playing mule in Gus.
Nobody will mistake this lighthearted matinee fare for cinematic masterpieces, but the movies hold a special place in our heart. We watched some of these over and over as kids, especially when they aired on TV as part of The Wonderful World of Disney.
Which was your favorite?
5. The Reluctant Astronaut (1967)
"Me, an astronaut? I can't even get up on the chair to get the marmalade!" Knotts is a NASA janitor who gets his chance in outer space. Were suckers for anything set in space, and there are some nifty low-tech effects for zero gravity. It also costars Leslie Nielsen, proving early on that he had the comedy chops for flicks like The Naked Gun.
4. The Private Eyes (1980)
Conway and Knotts made several films together (including No. 1 on our list), few funnier than this spoof of Sherlock Holmes. Props include a handgun set to go off at the top of ever hour and a fake pigeon thrown through a window.
3. The Ghost and Mr. Chicken (1966)
A trembling coward must investigate a haunted house. Not to be confused with The Shakiest Gun in the West. Nobody did cowardice better.
2. The Incredible Mr. Limpet (1964)
The Roger Rabbit of its time, Limpet brilliantly blended Disney animation and live action. The trailer kept its promise: "Sure to be the most incredibly delightful movie about a man who turns into a fish that you'll see this year." Please don't remake this with CGI.
1. The Apple Dumpling Gang (1975)
This western comedy classic featured the strongest plot and setting, with Knotts and Conway playing outlaws performing a heist. Harry Morgan saying, "Your rear end's on fire, Theodore" gets us every time.