The Ghost and Mr. Chicken
Percepto Records (PERCEPTO-015)
Year Released: 1966 / 2004
Conducted by Vic Mizzy
Review: Ghost and Mr. Chicken, The
3 / 5 Stars
A while back, I reviewed a song album of Vic Mizzy's where I was dismissive of the album and mentioned that his music would have been catchy in a Blake Edwards movie. Music is all about context and while I was not a fan of Songs for the Jogging Crowd, this score to the 1966 Don Knott's film fits Mizzy's skills like a glove. Vic Mizzy had already written the themes to the Addams Family and Green Acres TV shows, but had only done the score to only one other movie before this, the psychological thriller The Night Walker. Mizzy's score for Ghost and Mr. Chicken would influence much of the work he would get for the next ten years. Amazingly, this 36-minute score was written in four days.
The movie is a spooky comedy and its score is light and jazzy in the Henry Mancini vein. The fuzz guitar (a Mizzy staple) and xylophone dominate the orchestration with the horns complimenting them. The catchy main theme is a jaunty motif that takes up a majority of the tracks, which never tires through the multiple variations on the motif mainly because Mizzy knows how to stick a theme in your head. A fun haunted Organ theme emerges in the "Kelsey Tale" and "Haunted Organ" and "Chick-napped." If this sounds like TV music of the time, it should as Mizzy is one of the masters of comedy television composing.
This is the perfect example of an obscure album done right. There are lots of short cues on the album, which also includes a large amount of the incidental music in the score such as the arrangements of "Camptown Races" and "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow" in "Hero's Picnic" and "The Speech is Over." The "When in Southern California" tag at the end of the movie is even included. The thoroughness of the album extends to the stellar linear notes documenting the film's production and information about Mizzy himself.
Now if I can only get that damn theme out of my head.