A Mysterious Don Knotts Double-Feature

A Mysterious Don Knotts Double-Feature

Have you heard the Retroist podcast episode on the 1980 comedy film, The Private Eyes, yet? Hopefully it has made you want to seek this movie out and view it. Afterall who wouldn’t want to see Don Knotts and Tim Conway bumbling their way through a spoof of the classic Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce Sherlock Holmes movies?

This comedy’s cast also includes other reliable TV actors such as Bernard Fox (Bewitched, Hogan’s Heroes), Trisha Noble (Executive Suite, Strike Force) and John Fujioka (M*A*S*H, Tales of the Gold Monkey). To further entice you to see The Private Eyes, here is its original 1980 trailer.

As mentioned on the podcast, Don Knotts had an earlier foray in another spooky mansion/murder mystery comedy, 1966’s The Ghost and Mr. Chicken. Knotts portrays Luther Heggs, a timid typesetter of the local paper who wants to make more of himself by becoming a reporter. When events happen to make the townsfolk believe an abandoned mansion is haunted, Luther Heggs seizes the opportunity to investigate it for the newspaper.

After a hair-raising night spent inside the mansion, Luther’s printed article describes the weird goings-on and declares the mansion is most definitely haunted, which makes him a local celebrity, and impresses the girl of his dreams. But Luther’s report also gets him into legal trouble with the mansion’s absentee owner who demands in court that Luther prove that the mansion is haunted. In typical Don Knotts fashion, things don’t go exactly his way, but happy accidents do occur.

If you happen to be a fan of The Andy Griffith Show, then you will enjoy this film as well. The film is loaded with familiar faces from that TV series such as Hal Smith, Dorothy Neumann, Charles Lane, Burt Mustin, Hope Summers, Reta Shaw and more. If their names aren’t familiar their faces will be once you see them on screen. Other recognizable character actors are also in the cast, Dick Sargent (Bewitched),  Joan Staley (77 Sunset Strip) and Skip Homeier (Star Trek).

Watch the trailer for The Ghost and Mr. Chicken to see for yourself how entertaining it is.

Either of these two movies would make for one enjoyable screening. But if you were to do a double-feature screening of them both, well, like they say to Don Knotts in The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, “Atta boy, Luther!”


Retroist Contributor & Ass't Editor I like to look back at our collectively-shared Pop Culture history and write about it, but mostly I try to buy it all back off eBay.

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