Don Knotts in a Bittersweet Tale of Love and Loss
|Original print ad for "The Incredible Mr. Limpet."|
There are, in fact, a lot of reasons to remember Don Knotts. However, most people don't know that Don Knotts was a decorated serviceman during World War II, or that he was a marksman, or that he was a skilled ventriloquist. There's no reason that they should. However, that information helps one to understand the outstanding performance that Don Knotts gives in a fabulous, sentimental animated film about World War II called "The Incredible Mr. Limpet" (1964), directed by Arthur Lubin for Warner Bros.
|Henry dreams of joining the Navy.|
|Henry on the Coney Island boardwalk.|
|Henry and Ladyfish.|
The plan is that Henry will use his roar (which he calls a "thrum") to alert the US Navy to the location of enemy submarines. He "throws his voice," sort of like a ventriloquist - remember that bit of information from above? The US Navy accepts this wacky plan and makes Henry an officer. Henry thus achieves his dream of serving his country during the war in a very roundabout sort of way.
|Henry meets Crusty.|
In dodging them, clumsy Henry accidentally loses his spectacles. Everything seems dire, but with the help of his friend, Crusty, and clever use of his thrum, Henry manages to redirect the German torpedoes away from him and back toward the very submarines that had attacked him. The entire German submarine fleet is sunk, achieving final naval victory for the Allies.
|Henry gets an idea.|
|Don Knotts and his animated character.|
"The Incredible Mr. Limpet" enabled Knotts to show studio executives that, in his own funny way, he could play drama as well as slapstick comedy. The role of Henry Limpet was more of a breakthrough for Knotts than even many of his fans now realize because they see "animated film" and think "comedy." "The Incredible Mr. Limpet" is not a comedy at all. If you ever were to ask the enduring question, "Why did Don Knotts leave 'The Andy Griffith Show,'" the correct answer would be because of his success in showing his ability to act outside of comedy in "The Incredible Mr. Limpet."
|Henry talking through sonar.|
|Jack Weston is at his best as George.|
|The Navy decides what to do with Henry.|
|Crusty guiding George.|
|An original print ad.|
|Autographed photo of Henry Limpet by Don Knotts.|