The Incredible Mr. Limpet

  • Live action directed by Arthur Lubin
  • Animation directed by Bill Tytla, Robert McKimson, Hawley Pratt, and Gerry Chiniquy
  • March 28, 1964
  • Based on the 1942 novel Mr. Limpet by Theodore Pratt

A meek man turns into a fish and helps the US in its fight against Nazis during WWII.

Don Knotts was the Leslie Nielsen of his day. A rubbery faced comedian that found himself in some ludicrous situations no matter the film. There was something identifiable and endearing about him. He rarely changed things up from film to film in his character portrayal yet each was entertaining.

And into this movie career came The Incredible Mr. Limpet, the story of Henry Limpet who is a nebbish man that would rather be a fish than a human being. His greatest desire to serve his country during World War II is answered by an unexplained magical occurrence wherein he becomes an undefined species of fish while at Coney Island.

This film blends animation and live action into a rather fanciful and entertaining piece of family fluff. At least on the surface anyway or appears as fluff to an innocent child. A jaded adult might think otherwise. As a kid I watched this and I just thought it was neat. Nothing dark with a bunch of kindly characters

As an adult, I can’t help but think that Henry Limpet’s friend George (Jack Weston) and Henry’s wife Bessie (Carole Cook) are having an affair and not needing to work that hard to hide it from Henry. Seriously. Watch this and try not to think that. And that supposition is all but confirmed at the end when George reveals that he and Henry’s wife are still together. That’s the way he puts it.

Despite that strong implication or impression, Henry and Bessie have a sweet heart to heart at the end. He says his goodbyes and they part as friends. Did he suspect there was something going on? Did he know and just ignore it? Or am I reading too much into this and overthinking how they needed to explain and just fit in the character of George? Maybe a little bit of everything. I don’t think too many of those exposed to modern media will pick up on the infidelity of Henry’s wife. They may wonder though how George gets into the Navy regardless of his rank. He ain’t exactly fighting material.

You don’t get very much physical Don Knotts in this movie. There is plenty of his voice, but his actual performance as an actual Don Knotts is largely missing. For some reason I thought there was much more Don Knotts and a lot less animation. Kids will certainly be entertained by the animation. It’s done in the classic Warner Bros. style and was the last production done by WB animation of the era before it shut down.

There’s a great amount of underwater action and it is all animated. And Henry does get his own story underwater, meeting a crab and finding a love though that love story really doesn’t develop. He saves her life and she’s completely devoted to him. He is head over fin for her but more strangely finds her attractive despite only a short time before being human. Was he pulling a Troy McClure?

The story of The Incredible Mr. Limpet is just about a man finding his place. He never fits in and has a strange (possibly abnormal) passion for fish. He’s unhappy with his life and not exactly happy with his marriage either. While his wife may be cheating on him with his ‘friend’ George, Henry is doing no favors by all but ignoring her and focusing on his fish and his science literature.

Set during World War II Henry finds himself aiding the war effort as a top-secret weapon with his only real contact to the outside world or to the United States Navy being his ‘friend’ George. He helps to locate subs for targeting by the Allies thus saving the Atlantic fleet but still never quite figuring out that George is doing the horizontal mambo with his wife Bessie. How stupid do you have to be? I am a bit stuck on that as you may have noticed.

We even get Nazis in this. Limpet is a bit of a problem for them so they develop a torpedxoe that can trach his “thrum” which is a loud defensive roar he lets out whose origin amounts to little more than him now being a fish. I do not know if they are actually speaking German or mock German but you know exactly what is being said. I found it reminiscent of Hogan’s Heroes for some reason maybe because I recognize one of the actors (Oscar Beregi, Jr.) playing a Nazi here from that show.

Despite anything I brought up, don’t think too deeply about the script here. It’s superficial. The Incredible Mr. Limpet is meant to be family friendly despite it all and an entertaining diversion. It’s fantasy and nothing more. The script is entertaining, and you get a few smiles from it. There are no big laughs to be had but what sells this is the voice work of Don Knotts and some of the exaggerated performances of those involved.

The Incredible Mr. Limpet is a great piece of animated fantasy. This is a fun diversion that will leave you smiling. It’s something simple that makes you feel good. I will give this a strong if you want!

Published by warrenwatchedamovie

Just a movie lover trying spread the love.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: