Monday, April 29, 2013

"The Ghost and Mr. Chicken"

      "The Ghost and Mr. Chicken" is a 1966 American comedy-drama film starring Don Knotts as Luther Heggs, a newspaper typesetter who spends a night in a haunted house, which is located in the fictitious community of Rachel, Kansas. The working title was Running Scared.
Theatrical Release Poster
      Luther Heggs is a typesetter at the newspaper in Rachel, Kansas, but aspires to be a reporter. One night, observing what he believes to be a murder outside of an old, supposedly haunted house, Heggs rushes to the police station with his scoop. Unfortunately, as he relates the details of his story to the Chief of Police, the murder "victim" walks into the room. The next morning, Heggs walks downstairs to the dining room at the Natalie Miller boarding house and overhears Ollie Weaver (Homeier), a full-time reporter at the newspaper, mocking his mistakes of the night before. According to a legend noted in the film, the Simmons mansion was a "murder house" 20 years earlier, when Mr. Simmons murdered his wife, then jumped from the organ loft to his death. Legend says that you can hear the ghost of Mr. Simmons playing the organ at night.
      To increase newspaper sales, Luther is assigned to spend the night in the house on the 20th anniversary of the murders. At midnight, Heggs sees the old organ begin to play by itself, as well as other ghostly happenings. His story gets the town abuzz and Nicholas Simmons (Philip Ober), nephew of the deceased couple, sues Heggs for libel.
      In the courtroom, Heggs is made out to be a fool, but the judge orders the courtroom to the Simmons house at midnight to allow Heggs to prove his story. Nothing happens, and everyone leaves except for Heggs. Soon after, when he notices the old organ playing again, Heggs discovers Mr. Kelsey, the newspaper's janitor, producing the creepy tune from an additional keyboard located under the pipes. The typesetter and janitor then confront Nicholas Simmons, who killed his aunt and uncle and has been trying to cover up the story all this time. A secret passage from the study up to the organ loft had been Simmons' alibi, and Mr. Kelsey was the last one who knew the secret. Luther knocks Simmons out with a body slam, and the case is closed. At the end of the film, Heggs marries his sweetheart, Alma Parker (Joan Staley) and the church organ begins to play the same spooky tune that came from the Simmons house, with the keys moving, but no one there.

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