I Wish I Were A Fish: Don Knotts in THE INCREDIBLE MR. LIMPET (Warner Brothers 1964)

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Don Knotts’ popularity as Deputy Barney Fife on TV’s THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW led to his first starring feature role in THE INCREDIBLE MR. LIMPET. Knotts plays milquetoast Henry Limpet, a hen-pecked hubby and military 4-F who longs to be a fish and magically gets his wish. This Disneyesque fantasy-comedy benefits greatly from Knotts’ vocal talents and the animation of “Looney Tunes” vet Robert McKimson. In fact, the whole film would’ve been better off as a complete cartoon, because the live-action segments directed by Arthur Lubin distract from the aquatic antics of Limpet as an animated fish.

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Lubin was a former Universal contract director noted for five Abbott & Costello films (including their first, BUCK PRIVATES), the Francis the Talking Mule series, and TV’s MR. ED. You’d expect lots of slapstick with a resume like that, but no such luck. Instead, Knotts is put through some domestic paces with shrewish wife Carole Cook and obnoxious best bud Jack Weston. No wonder he was happier as a fish!

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THE INCREDIBLE MR. LIMPET comes to life when the animation takes over. Robert McKimson was a stalwart of the Warner Bros. cartoon factory, creating among others Foghorn Leghorn, The Tasmanian Devil, Speedy Gonzalez, and Hippity Hopper (the boxing kangaroo). The fish Limpet meets a new friend, Crusty the hermit crab (voiced by the ubiquitous Paul Frees) and a lady fish named Ladyfish (Elizabeth MacRae, no stranger to Mayberry herself. She was Gomer’s girlfriend LouAnn Poovie on GOMER PYLE USMC). Limpet develops a sonic roar dubbed “thrum”, and uses it to help the U.S. Navy combat Nazi subs. Soon Limpet is given a Lieutenant’s commission, much to the chagrin of Captain Harlock (Andrew Duggan) and Admiral Spewter (Larry Keating).

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The live action/animation scenes are well done, and there are some forgettable songs thrown in by Sammy Fain and Harold Adamson. On the whole it’s an enjoyable if inconsequential film for kiddies and family viewing. Don Knotts went on to do a series of 60’s family comedies, like THE GHOST & MR. CHICKEN, THE RELUCTANT ASTRONAUT, and THE SHAKIEST GUN IN THE WEST. He eventually went to Disney for films such as THE APPLE DUMPLING GANG and HERBIE GOES TO MONTE CARLO. Returning to TV as wanna-be playboy Ralph Furley in the 70’s “jiggle” sitcom THREE’S COMPANY,  Knotts is best known to modern audiences as the cable repairman in PLEASANTVILLE. But his movie career never did take off the way he wanted it. Don Knotts will always be Barney Fife to his fans from now til eternity, and that’s not such a bad way to be remembered. THE INCREDIBLE MR. LIMPET will bring a few smiles to you though , and is worth a look for the animation artistry of Robert McKimson.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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15 Replies to “I Wish I Were A Fish: Don Knotts in THE INCREDIBLE MR. LIMPET (Warner Brothers 1964)”

      1. I caught one with him in it the other evening. Didn’t catch the name though. He was dubbed a flake because he claimed a house was haunted, took townspeople on a tour of the house to prove it was true, but of course nothing happened and he looked foolish. Not sure of the name, maybe you know.

        Liked by 2 people

  1. I loved this movie when I was younger because I’ve always preferred the ocean life too. I haven’t seen this in ages. Nice review. I prefer the cartoon parts myself.
    I watched Shakiest Gun in the West a month or so ago and really liked it. He was pretty funny there

    Liked by 1 person

  2. this was always a favorite movie of ours growing up, we used to try to make that thrump noise under water at the beach, wondering if anyone could hear it. I saw the Reluctant Astronaut not to long ago, got a big kick out of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am so glad you posted this! Man it brings back so many great memories. When I was a kid my local theater ran summer specials featuring the Apple Dumplin’ Gang, The Incredible Mr. limpet and others for .50 a ticket! It was so much fun!
    Danny

    Like

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