The Ghost and Mr. Chicken (1966)

90 mins | Comedy, Mystery | April 1966

Director:

Alan Rafkin

Producer:

Edward J. Montagne

Cinematographer:

William Margulies

Editor:

Sam E. Waxman

Production Designers:

Alexander Golitzen, George Webb

Production Company:

Universal Pictures
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HISTORY

On 24 Jan 1965, NYT reported the departure of actor Don Knotts from The Andy Griffith Show (CBS, 1960 – 1968) to pursue a film career. Six months later, the 23 Jun 1965 LAT announced Running Scared as Knotts’s first picture under his recent contract with Universal Pictures. Production charts in the 7 Jul 1965 Var reported the start of principal photography that day. Within a month, the title was officially changed to The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, as noted in a 4 Aug 1965 Var news item, which suggested that the new title was inspired by the 1947 film, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (see entry).
       The 29 Dec 1965 Var announced that the picture was scheduled for a series of “pre-release openings” on 20 Jan 1966 in New Orleans, LA, and surrounding cities, followed by 27 Jan 1966 openings in the vicinity of Charlotte, NC. Knotts and lead actress Joan Staley were expected to make promotional appearances for the New Orleans premiere. Two weeks later, the 12 Jan 1966 Var noted that Staley and co-star Dick Sargent visited the city on 10 Jan 1966, along with Baton Rouge, LA, Shreveport, LA, Mobile, AL, and Pensacola, FL. The 26 Jan 1966 Var revealed that Knotts was the only cast member not being “utilized in advance promotion” of the picture’s debut. On 30 Mar 1966, Var reported that The Ghost and Mr. Chicken was already a hit in the South, months ahead of its May ... More Less

On 24 Jan 1965, NYT reported the departure of actor Don Knotts from The Andy Griffith Show (CBS, 1960 – 1968) to pursue a film career. Six months later, the 23 Jun 1965 LAT announced Running Scared as Knotts’s first picture under his recent contract with Universal Pictures. Production charts in the 7 Jul 1965 Var reported the start of principal photography that day. Within a month, the title was officially changed to The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, as noted in a 4 Aug 1965 Var news item, which suggested that the new title was inspired by the 1947 film, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (see entry).
       The 29 Dec 1965 Var announced that the picture was scheduled for a series of “pre-release openings” on 20 Jan 1966 in New Orleans, LA, and surrounding cities, followed by 27 Jan 1966 openings in the vicinity of Charlotte, NC. Knotts and lead actress Joan Staley were expected to make promotional appearances for the New Orleans premiere. Two weeks later, the 12 Jan 1966 Var noted that Staley and co-star Dick Sargent visited the city on 10 Jan 1966, along with Baton Rouge, LA, Shreveport, LA, Mobile, AL, and Pensacola, FL. The 26 Jan 1966 Var revealed that Knotts was the only cast member not being “utilized in advance promotion” of the picture’s debut. On 30 Mar 1966, Var reported that The Ghost and Mr. Chicken was already a hit in the South, months ahead of its May 1966 general release. The picture opened 6 Apr 1966 in Los Angeles, CA, and 18 Sep 1966 in New York City. Although reviews were lukewarm, critics favorably compared Knotts to silent film comedians Harold Lloyd and Harry Langdon. In an interview for the 12 Aug 1966 LAT, producer Edward J. Montagne predicted that the picture could earn five times its $670,000 budget.
       The success of The Ghost and Mr. Chicken earned Knotts and director Alan Rafkin, also a veteran of The Andy Griffith Show, long-term contracts with Universal, as announced in the 24 Oct and 25 Jan 1966 issues of LAT, respectively.
       An article in the 17 Mar 1965 Var stated that producer Frank McCarthy was initially involved with the project, but left Universal later that month to work for Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp. The 28 Oct 1965 LAT included actor Richard Pale among the cast.
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Los Angeles Times
23 Jun 1965
Section D, p. 11.
Los Angeles Times
28 Oct 1965
Section B, p. 7.
Los Angeles Times
25 Jan 1966
Section C, p. 10.
Los Angeles Times
5 Apr 1966
Section D, p. 19.
Los Angeles Times
8 Apr 1966
Section C, p. 11.
Los Angeles Times
12 Aug 1966
Section C, p. 6.
Los Angeles Times
24 Oct 1966
p. 30.
New York Times
24 Jan 1965
Section X, p. 15.
New York Times
18 Sep 1966
p. 127.
New York Times
22 Sep 1966
p. 57.
Variety
17 Mar 1965
p. 4.
Variety
7 Jul 1965
p. 14.
Variety
4 Aug 1965
p. 24.
Variety
29 Dec 1965
p. 4.
Variety
12 Jan 1966
p. 6, 11, 23.
Variety
26 Jan 1966
p. 22.
Variety
2 Feb 1966
p. 27.
Variety
30 Mar 1966
p. 15.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairstyles
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit prod mgr
Main titles
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Running Scared
Release Date:
April 1966
Premiere Information:
New Orleans premiere: 20 January 1966
Los Angeles opening: 6 April 1966
New York opening: 18 September 1966
Production Date:
began 7 July 1965
Copyright Claimant:
Universal Pictures
Copyright Date:
2 April 1966
Copyright Number:
LP35375
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex
Color
Technicolor
Widescreen/ratio
Techniscope
Duration(in mins):
90
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Luther Heggs, a meek, timid typesetter for a smalltown newspaper, envisions himself in his daydreams as a reporter worthy of winning the love of Alma Parker. His chance comes when he writes an article on the local "haunted house," where a gruesome murder and suicide took place 20 years earlier. The newspaper piece creates such a stir that Luther's editor, George Beckett, orders him to spend a night in the old house and do a followup story. During the long vigil, the terrified Luther discovers a hidden staircase, a bloodstained organ that plays by itself, and a portrait dripping blood. When his story is published, Luther is given a town picnic in honor of his courage. Nick Simmons, a descendant of the murdered couple and the current owner of the old house, sues Luther and his paper for libel. At the trial, the judge makes the jurors and all involved parties pay a visit to the deserted mansion. Although nothing is found, Luther accidentally tricks Mr. Simmons into revealing his own guilt in the 20-year-old killings, and Luther once again becomes the town ... +


Luther Heggs, a meek, timid typesetter for a smalltown newspaper, envisions himself in his daydreams as a reporter worthy of winning the love of Alma Parker. His chance comes when he writes an article on the local "haunted house," where a gruesome murder and suicide took place 20 years earlier. The newspaper piece creates such a stir that Luther's editor, George Beckett, orders him to spend a night in the old house and do a followup story. During the long vigil, the terrified Luther discovers a hidden staircase, a bloodstained organ that plays by itself, and a portrait dripping blood. When his story is published, Luther is given a town picnic in honor of his courage. Nick Simmons, a descendant of the murdered couple and the current owner of the old house, sues Luther and his paper for libel. At the trial, the judge makes the jurors and all involved parties pay a visit to the deserted mansion. Although nothing is found, Luther accidentally tricks Mr. Simmons into revealing his own guilt in the 20-year-old killings, and Luther once again becomes the town hero. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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