Tonight on MeTV, it’s one of our most requested movies starring the beloved actor who played one of Mayberry’s best-known citizens and public servants, in a comedy chiller that revolves around his investigation of a local house, the scene of a murder and now labelled as haunted! Being brave enough to spend a night there would provide him the opportunity to finally get his dream job as a newspaper reporter- but his quest turns into a very real nightmare- leaving our hero caught between ghost troubles and legal woes. It’s the great Don Knotts, as the character-type he perfected, in the 1966 horror comedy "The Ghost and Mr. Chicken"!
Things start out on a dark and stormy night, as small-town newspaper type-setter Luther Heggs (a dreamer who longs to move up from the ink-stained production department of the paper to the ranks of a full-fledged newspaper reporter) is out on a late-night drive- when he stumbles upon what appears to be- a murder scene! Thinking this is the scoop that will bring him to the big time, he reports the alleged murder-only to find out things aren't what they appear to be! This poor guy’s mistake leaves him embarrassed in front of the townsfolk, with the added misery of his paper’s star reporter arriving on the scene to heap on a little more ridicule. Luther envies that star reporter, Ollie, not only for his job - but also for his apparent position of boyfriend to gorgeous Alma, the sweet young woman who has captured the typesetter’s heart.
Soon after, the paper needs a filler item to round out one page, and the fairly inconsequential job of providing it falls to- who else?- Luther! A friendly co-worker encourages him to write about the town's most infamous murder/suicide- a story sure to grab the readers’ interest, since it took place in a local mansion where it is rumored the ghost of the killer still makes midnight appearances playing the pipe organ!
Luther's boss reads the filler and, with the 20th anniversary of the murder coming up, thinks the story could turn into a great promotional stunt for the paper! The plan-have someone spend the night in the allegedly haunted mansion, then write a chilling report on it! And who better to do that, than the author of the filler himself- Luther!? Naturally, the meek and chicken-hearted would-be reporter/type-setter has no interest in this creepy challenge- but when Ollie begins razzing him again, the constant derision goads him into accepting the assignment! He feels it’s the sure way to finally get his big break as a reporter- and very likely make some romantic progress with the lovely Alma.
And so, in the dead of night, Luther timidly enters the mansion- only to have a terrifying experience, finding secret passages, unexplained phenomena- and witnessing the actual ghostly late-night playing of the blood-stained keys of the organ (stains that seem to be impossible to remove- “and they used Bon Ami!”)
Needless to say, after that fateful night, both Luther and his thrilling account of his adventure become a sensation! The entire town, including Alma, are positive that he’s a real courageous hero - but just as his future as a reporter seems guaranteed, there’s a nasty bump in the road. The last remaining family member of the murder victims, who still owns the mansion and has considerable influence on the town, calls the story a total vicious lie- and lets it be known that he will sue the newspaper, and Luther as well, for libel!
He makes an unconditional offer-Luther and his boss must print a retraction. This will unfortunately result in the paper being forced out of business, with Luther losing his budding journalism career, and, worst of all, killing his chances with Alma. Do they give in and give up- or can Luther muster the courage to stand his ground, and stick to his story, knowing he told the truth about what he witnessed? Only an embarrassing day in court and risking one final frightening visit to the haunted house can prove his story, clear his name, and possibly reveal the truth about the legendary murder!
It obviously wasn’t much of a stretch for Don Knotts to portray Luther, simply transferring the characteristics of his Mayberry character Barney Fife to the role of Luther- the trademark type of character he played so well! His love interest is a beautiful and engaging actress –the late Joan Staley- and they are supported by a host of familiar faces from TV shows and commercials- even one or two of Barney’s fellow citizens of Mayberry! We'll talk about them, provide a little background on the movie, and explain one of the most-quoted lines of the film- which isn’t delivered by any on-screen cast member, but someone important to the movie, regardless. Of course, we’ll be scaring up some Sven shtick to add to all the fun. We repeat this film every once in a while, due to the demand for it by our viewers- and the fact that it does so well in every showing. In the words of Luther, those who want to complain about it can “run down an alley and yell ‘Fish’”!
“The Ghost and Mr. Chicken” appears on MeTV tonight at 8 pm eastern/pacific, 7 central- if you’re not sure of time and channel where you live, just check your local listings, or go to www.metv.com ! MeTV invites you to live-Tweet along with the many viewers who do so every week during the show on Twitter- just make sure to use the hashtag #svengoolie – and join the Sven-tweeters who have put us among the top popular subjects trending nationally! This morning on our main local Chicago station, CW 26, viewers can get another look at Perry Mason alumnus William Hopper in “The Deadly Mantis” at 11 am.
We hope you caught the NEW version of our merchandise commercial, featuring the two popular tag lines you have told us you have missed! (It may not always run in the old spot after the mail segment, but it will be there!) You might want to check out all the new Sven merchandise as well, with even more coming up soon! See the preview below!
Speaking of coming up soon- keep checking the appearances tab here on our website- looks like we will be hitting the road again in mere weeks! Info is coming soon!
But tonight- witness the strange events that will have a big effect on our favorite gangly ghostbuster!