...it's not dark yet, but it's gettin' there...
Back in 2004, I paid tribute to the great Don Knotts on the occasion of his birthday. Here's what I wrote:
While a lot of people swear that The Incredible Mr. Limpet is the best Don Knotts movie, i think people who think that are all wet. Knotts excelled at the physical comedy of facial expressions. Limpet was a cartoon, so it by definition cannot be the best DK movie.There's a pretty good bio at ABC News.com. Did you know Don Knotts majored in speech in college?
The Ghost and Mr. Chicken is a strong contender. Knotts' character is named Luther Heggs, a perfect name for a DK character. i loved the whole scene where he spends the night in the haunted house. Remember the crazy organ music? Knotts was at his shaky best.
i liked The Reluctant Astronaut just a little bit better, partly because i like space movies. This one came out in 1967, at the height of the space race. The premise is typically DK: he gets a job at NASA, tells his family and his girlfriend that he is in astronaut training, when in fact he's just a janitor, hijinks ensue, his family finds out about the charade, they're terribly disappointed, then even though he's Acrophobic, he blunders onto a spaceflight, actually becoming a reluctant astronaut , more hijinks ensue. It's predictable, but still a must see.
i also liked The Apple Dumpling Gang, where DK teams up with Tim Conway as a pair of stereotypically incompetent but loveable bank robbers.
But the funniest Don Knotts movie, in my opinion, is the often overlooked How to Frame a Figg, from 1971. Here's a couple of comments from the IMDB page:'How to Frame a Figg is a vintage Don Knotts - frenetic, farcical comedy, and features him at the top of his form as the hysterical, cat-on-hot-tin-roof nervous, persecuted civil servant Hollis Figg.'The opening scene with the ambulance is pathetically absurd, but i won't ruin it for you, it's one of my favorite comic scenes ever.
'If folks were really this stupid I could be the SRW - Supreme Ruler of the World. In this one Knotts plays a dimwitted bean counter for some little jerk water town run by a group of crooked simpletons only slightly brighter than he is. When things appear a bit shaky for the crooks they go for a frame-up of the patsy Figg. Plenty of laughs as Knotts does his usual bumbling, stumbling act. I especially appreciated the extension cord scene; asininity at it's highest level.'
Best Don Knotts movie: How to Frame a Figg. Go rent it tonight and let me know if you agree or disagree.
Update: Don Knotts' career as metaphor for the decline of American culture?