Tonight on MeTV- it’s one of the always most requested, always most tuned-in-for movies in our Sven library- featuring a favorite comedy actor seen every weekday on MeTV, as well as lots of other familiar TV faces, all in what proves to be a chilling atmosphere offset by snickers to go with the scares! It all revolves around a supposedly haunted house that was the scene of a murder- and provides an opportunity for a would-be newspaper reporter to finally get his dream job- unless it all turns into a nightmare between ghost troubles and legal problems. There’s a horde of haunted hilarity in "The Ghost and Mr. Chicken"!
Good-hearted newspaper type-setter Luther Heggs is the dreamer who longs to be promoted to the post of honest- to-gosh newspaper reporter. We first encounter him out on a late night drive where he believes he's stumbled on a murder scene, finally thinking he will get the scoop that will elevate him to the big time. Unfortunately, things aren't what they appear to be, and lead to his embarrassment in front of the townsfolk- abetted by his paper’s star reporter- leaving him feeling like a failure. He envies the star reporter, Ollie, not only for his job - but also for apparently being the boyfriend of Alma- the gorgeous young woman Luther has a crush on.
When the paper has a page come up short and needs a filler item to round it out, the admittedly inconsequential job of providing it falls to- who else?- Luther. A friendly co-worker encourages him to write about the town's most infamous murder/suicide- a story sure to grab the readers’ interest, since it took place in a local mansion where it is rumored the ghost of the killer still makes midnight appearances playing the pipe organ!
Luther's boss reads the filler, and realizing that the 20th anniversary of the murder is coming up-thinks the story has real legs, and decides it could lead to a great publicity stunt for the paper! Why not have someone spend the night in the allegedly haunted mansion and write a chilling report on it? And who better to do that, than the author of the filler himself- Luther!? The would- be reporter/ type-setter has no interest in this creepy assignment- but goaded into it by Ollie, he braces himself to indeed spend the night there. He feels it’s the one way to finally get his big break as a reporter- and finally make some headway with the lovely Alma. In the dead of night, Luther timidly enters the mansion- only to have a terrifying experience, finding secret passages, unexplained phenomena- and witnessing the actual ghostly late-night playing of the blood-stained organ ( whose stains seem to be impossible to remove- and they used Bon Ami!)
Needless to say, both the story – and Luther- become a sensation! The entire town, including Alma, feels he’s a real hero - but just as his future as a reporter seems guaranteed, there’s a nasty bump in the road. The last remaining family member of the murder victims, who still owns the mansion, and has considerable influence in the town, calls the story a total vicious lie- and lets it be known that he will sue the newspaper, and Luther as well, for libel! He makes an unconditional offer-Luther and his boss must print a retraction. The result will be the paper being ruined, Luther losing his budding journalism career, and, worst of all- killing his chances of true romance with Alma. Do they give in and give up- or can Luther stand his ground, and stick to his story, which he knows to be the truth? Only an embarrassing day in court and risking one final frightening visit to the haunted house in an attempt to prove his story can clear his name- and possibly reveal the truth about the ghost- and the legendary murder!
It obviously isn’t much of a stretch for Don Knotts to portray Luther, simply transferring the characteristics of his beloved Mayberry character Barney Fife to the character- but, of course, those were the type of characters he played so well! His love interest is a beautiful and engaging actress who recently passed away-Joan Staley- and they are supported by a host of familiar faces from TV shows and commercials- even a few of Barney’s fellow citizens of Mayberry! We'll talk about them, provide a little background on the movie, and explain one of the most-quoted lines of the film- which isn’t delivered by any on-screen cast member. Of course, we’ll be scaring up some Sven shtick to add to all the fun.
“The Ghost and Mr. Chicken” appears on MeTV tonight at 8 pm eastern/pacific, 7 central- if you’re not sure of time and channel where you live, just check your local listings, or go to www.metv.com ! MeTV invites you to live-Tweet along with the many viewers who do so every week during the show on Twitter- just use the hashtag #svengoolie – and join the Sven-tweeters who put us among the most popular subjects trending nationally! This morning on the U, locally in the Chicago area, you will find our show at the normal 11 am time, presenting an encore of Joan Crawford’s “Berserk!”- but- a word to the wise- next week, the time will be shifting again due to sports programming.
If you’re reading this early enough, and will be in the vicinity of our favorite Chicago suburb Berwyn today- you can see me at the “Pet Supplies Plus” store at the Harlem and Cermak Plaza - 7133 Cermak Road . I’ll be there for autographs and photos from 1-3 pm. Come say hello!
And tonight- you can scream- with laughter and otherwise- when Luther investigates paranormal activity- let’s face it- HE’S not normal!