Luther Heggs aspires to be a reporter for his small town newspaper, the Rachel Courier Express. He gets his big break when the editor asks him to spend the night at the Simmons mansion that 20 years before was the site of a now famous murder-suicide. The case has aroused local interest not only because of the anniversary but because the family heir, Nick Simmons, has returned to Rachel planning to tear the mansion down. Luther's account of his wild, ghost-ridden night in the house leads Simmons to sue for libel, but with the aid of his friend Kelsey, they determine what exactly happened that night long ago and the identity of the real killer.Written by
Luther Heggs' (Don Knotts's) line "Why don't you run up an alley and holler fish" was used on his character, Barney Fife, by Gomer Pyle (Jim Nabors) in "The Andy Griffith Show" episode 'Citizen's Arrest' three years earlier. See more »
When Luther is spending the night in the murder house, he sees a shears stuck in the throat of the woman in a painting with blood gushing from the wound. Later when touring the house during the trial, the painting is unmarred and without blood stains, but it is never explained how this was possible.
It's implied that Kelsey, the former gardener, had a duplicate painting made and substituted the reproduction with the shears stuck in the throat for the original painting of Mrs. Simmons, and then switched the untouched original back on the wall after he had frightened Luther with the reproduction that had the shears and the blood on it. See more »
This picture is easy to rave about. I don't know how many times I've seen it, but 'Chicken' never fails to work its magic. A thesis could be written on its gentle lampooning of small town America, the travails of the 'little guy', and the character studies which show the human comedy which surrounds us every day of our lives. Pretty much every scene is a classic of comedy, from the malfunctioning elevator operator to the repeated motifs of 'Atta boy, Luther/Carlyle/Judge' and 'And they used Bon Ami!' It's also a treasure trove of fine performances, from Burt Mustin to Jesslyn Fax, not to mention Don K., of course. Reta Shaw, James Millhollin, Harry Hickox, Hope Summers, Philip "Phil" Ober, Harry Hines, Eddie Quillan, Herbie "I'm almost up to my Jell-o" Faye, Charles Lane, and the great Al Checco, what could be better? Everything is genuine, from wise-apple Skip Homier's matching with (former Playboy model) Joan "Above Average" Staley to Luther's accurate but frenzied punching of the transmission buttons in the center of the steering wheel of his 1958 Edsel. Vic Mizzy's score is incredible, and his crazed organ toccata will burn itself into your memory even more than his trademark electric guitar accents. Everything is well-composed in Techniscope. This picture, along with the rest of the Knotts Universal contract (climaxing in the very odd but hilarious 'The Love God?'), plus 'Angel in My Pocket', and even 'Cold Turkey' form an amazing comic vision of Americana, created by brilliant minds who knew how to capture it without resorting to cheap shots or vulgarity. 'Chicken' is a great comedy, a classic, and its greatness is found in its humbleness.
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