Category Archives: Andy Griffith

RIP, Jim Nabors.

Jim Thurston Nabors
(June 12, 1930 – November 30, 2017)

Here’s Jim Nabors behind the scenes on The Andy Griffith Show episode “Barney’s First Car” — the one where Barney Fife (Don Knotts) buys a clunker from Myrt “Hubcaps” Lesh (Ellen Corby). Of course, Nabors was Gomer Pyle.

Nabors passed away on the 30th at 87.

That’s Andy in the black sweater vest in front of the Mitchell camera. I had no idea Barney’s car was blue — the episode’s black and white.

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Filed under 1963, Andy Griffith, Don Knotts, Television

Blu-Ray Review: The Ghost And Mr. Chicken (1966).

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Directed by Alan Rafkin
Written by James Fritzel and Everett Greenbaum
Cinematography: William Margulies
Music by Vic Mizzy

Cast: Don Knotts (Luther Heggs), Joan Staley (Alma Parker), Liam Redmond (Kelsey), Dick Sargent (George Beckett), Skip Homeier (Ollie Weaver), Reta Shaw (Mrs. Halcyon Maxwell), Lurene Tuttle (Mrs. Natalie Miller), Phil Ober (Nicholas Simmons), Harry Hickox (Police Chief Art Fuller), Charles Lane (Whitlow), Hal Smith, Ellen Corby, Hope Summers, Burt Mustin

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“The Haunted House” is one of my favorite episodes of The Andy Griffith Show. Don Knotts must’ve liked it, too, because he used it as a springboard for his first feature, The Ghost And Mr. Chicken (1966). Recruiting a couple writers from Andy Griffith, and Andy himself as a story man (the “Attaboy, Luther!” running gag was his), they cooked up the tale of Luther Heggs (Knotts) spending a restless night in a “murder house.”

Don Knotts and Joan Staley between takes on the Universal backlot.

Ties to The Andy Griffith Show abound. First, there’s a subtle, funny, character-driven look at small town life, trading Rachel, Kansas, for Mayberry, North Carolina (and adding Technicolor and Techniscope). There’s a number of Andy people in the cast: Hal Smith as an Otis-like drunk, Hope Summers (Clara Edwards on Andy) as a busybody, Reta Shaw, Burt Mustin, Ellen Corby, Charles Lane and more. The frequent Andy director Alan Rafkin was chosen by Knotts for the movie. The set must’ve felt like a family reunion.

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The lovely Joan Staley — who appeared in this, Gunpoint with Audie Murphy and an episode of Batman, all in 1966 — is charming as Knott’s love interest. Skip Homeier is perfect as a creep. And Vic Mizzy’s terrific score is worth the price of admission.

And no, the haunted house if not 1313 Mockingbird Lane from The Munsters, though it’s on the same Universal backlot street.

I saw The Ghost And Mr. Chicken repeatedly as a kid and love it to this day. (I even remember the red squiggly letterboxing they used during the credits in TV prints.) Sure, it’s a funny movie, but I find it so hard to be objective with this one. It’s a member of the “movie family” I feel compelled to visit every so often. (It’s got another thing going for it — it was an early date for my wife and I. She’s a big fan of The Andy Griffith Show and had never seen it, something I had to correct as soon as possible.)

It was a big deal around my house when this was announced for Blu-Ray (a Best Buy exclusive). The Ghost And Mr. Chicken has always looked good on video, from laserdisc to DVD to this new Blu-Ray. It’s a real beauty, sharp as a tack with eye-popping Technicolor. Highly recommended, especially to those who grew up with it.

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Filed under 1966, Andy Griffith, Don Knotts, DVD/Blu-ray Reviews, Universal (-International)

Screening: Mr. Roberts (1955) And No Time For Sergeants (1958).

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Durham’s Carolina Theatre is bringing two fine, funny films to town on Friday, July 17: Mister Roberts (1955) and No Time For Sergeants (1958).

Mister Roberts
Directed by John Ford and Mervyn LeRoy
Starring Henry Fonda, James Cagney, William Powell, Jack Lemmon

Henry Fonda had already been a smash on Broadway in Mister Roberts by the time he and director John Ford started the movie. They didn’t see eye to eye on how to the approach the material, and Ford left the project midstream (I’m skipping over the tales of drunkenness and fisticuffs). Mervyn LeRoy was brought in to finish the picture. It’s hard to say who did what, but the result is wonderful. You can’t beat that cast: Fonda, James Cagney, William Powell, Jack Lemmon, Ward Bond and so on.

Prod DB © Warner Bros. / DR 2 FARFELUS AU REGIMENT (NO TIME FOR SERGEANTS) de Mervyn LeRoy 1958 USA avec James Millhollin, Andy Griffith et Don Knotts sur le tournage militaire, officier, uniforme, paysan, fermier, galons d'apres le roman de Mac Hyman

No Time For Sergeants
Directed by Mervyn LeRoy
Starring Andy Griffith, Myron McCormick, Nick Adams, Murray Hamilton, Don Knotts, Dub Taylor

No Time For Sergeants follows Georgia boy Will Stockdale (Andy Griffith) as he’s drafted into the Air Force. It’s hilarious — and it went a long way toward making Griffith a star. He’s joined by Don Knotts, Nick Adams, Murray Hamilton and Dub Taylor. This time, Mervyn LeRoy directed the whole thing. Good God, this is a funny movie.

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Filed under 1955, 1958, Andy Griffith, Don Knotts, Jack Lemmon, John Ford, Mervyn LeRoy, Screenings