There’s Nothing Fishy About “The Incredible Mr. Limpet”

Part live-action, part animation, all entertainment.

That is a pretty accurate description of 1964’s The Incredible Mr. Limpet. The movie stars Don Knotts as Henry Limpet, a glasses-wearing Brooklyn bookkeeper/icthyophile who is stuck on land after being declared 4F by the Navy in World War II. Unable to help fight for his country, he travels to Coney Island to ponder his future. Just then, his life forever changes after he falls into the ocean and is magically transformed into a bespectacled fish. Limpet discovers that he has a subsonic call that can be used to become America’s secret weapon in the war — making himself into an unlikely hero and helping his best friend lead the Navy into victory in the process. All that, and he finds love too! Not bad for a fish from Brooklyn!!!

A whimsical tale (or is that tail?) that finds its outrageous origins in the novel of the same name by Theodore Pratt as well as history, The Incredible Mr. Limpet is a family classic whose cartoon elements — from legends that include Merrie Melodies/Looney Tunes animator Robert McKimson — has engaged several generations since its initial release in the spring of 1964. The true charm of the picture however is Don Knotts performance. The veteran character actor is at his best here, playing a lovable schlub who is thrown into the most unlikely situation imaginable and does his best to make his dreams come true. This inspirational message of overcoming the odds to achieve your dreams isn’t discussed nearly enough, but is nevertheless is a key factor in the film’s continuing popularity. And my friends, there is nothing fishy about that at all!

This article originally ran in 2017 and is being reprinted as part of our ongoing tenth anniversary celebrations.