Featuring Don Knotts as a bookkeeper named Henry Limpet who attempts to join the Navy at the beginning of the United States entry into WWII, but is rejected as being unfit for military service.
His deepest wish, though, is that he somehow be transformed into a fish.
Limpet’s marriage is threatened by his mild manner and his piscaphilia, an extreme love of fish.
Magically, on a trip to Coney Island Limpet falls into the ocean and is transformed. He befriends a crab he names “Crusty” and a sexy female fish he names “Ladyfish.” As a fish Limpet discovers he has incredible sonar powers, and convinces the war department that he can be useful pinpointing the locations of enemy mines and Nazi U-boat. After becoming a war hero Limpet “divorces” his wife and retires to the ocean world with Ladyfish as his mate.
Limpet’s wife Bessie (played by Carol Cooke) has a “friend” named George Stickle, (played by Jack Weston) who is accepted into the Navy, and earns her respect. Though this is ostensibly a movie for children, it is strongly implied that Limpet is being cuckolded. George Stickle is a strong male figure that dominates Limpet and calls him his “little buddy.”
Though at some point there mutt have been some attraction that brought Limpet and his wife Bessie together (perhaps his bookish, smart ways lead hr to believe he was going to be a good provider financially) Limpet’ fascination with the ocean world caused his marital relationship to deteriorate. Limpet began at some point to find it difficult to express himself as a man due to his feelings of inadequacy. Limpet became “limp” and could no longer perform in his role as a husband.
Of course Bessie naturally turned her affection to the earthy, potent George Stickle, whose name, Stickle connotes quick literally something tall, hard erect and virile. He is a man in every way that Limpet cannot be.
|Mr. Limpet and Ladyfish|
As the straight lifestyle becomes too great a burden to sustain, elements of the preferred lifestyle are introduced, first as hobbies or interests. In the ace of Limpet this manifests itself as a plethora of aquariums and an active interest in the sexual habits of sea life. These interests are cultivated and presented in ways that are at first socially acceptable, but as time goes on the pretense becomes unsustainable.
As the hobbies grow in importance the attendant lifestyle moves from being socially acceptable to socially unacceptable. (Note that this story is told from the perspective of social norms in 1941 as interpreted in 1964, and may have less relevance today in light of the advances being made in LGBT rights)
In the case of Limpet this socially unacceptable behavior includes “hanging around in the pet store for hours,” abstaining from seafood, and keeping a fish in the water cooler at work. despite warnings that his behavior threatens his cripple his place in normal society, Limpet does not seek to moderate his fantasies. Instead he doubles down, creating a complex fantasy world with its attendant impossible wishes such as “I wish I were a fish” as a prelude to his sexual awakening, a “coming out of the closet.”
|The comic adaptation|
As a human Limpet is incapable of passion, and his wife and others are all too willing to take him to task for his inadequacies.
When transformed into a fish, however, Limpet becomes confident and virile. He discovers that he has a unique undersea ability, a sort of sonar blast. When he uses this ability his entire body becomes a vertical column of blasting power. He can easily repel the most fearsome undersea predators. He takes on a fearsome shark and squid with ease. Limpet is no longer limp, he is a thick slab of pure phallic power.
Once transformed Limpet befriends a small crab he names “Crusty.” Like Adam in the biblical Eden, Limpet is allowed to name all the creatures he discovers. Unlike his land based relationship with George Stickle, Limpet is the dominant personality in his relationship with Crusty. Crusty, a male, respects Limpet’s virility. Limpet in turn does not repress Crusty, he even accepts help from his new friend, something George Stickle would have been loathe to do.
Ladyfish is not so much a character as she is a pure female sex object. Limpet saves her from a fisherman and gives her a name, and in return she immediately tries to seduce him, wantonly coiling herself around Limpet’s long, phallic and virile body, caressing his new found “manhood” in a manner Limpet cannot quite handle.
As an amoral animal, there are no human considerations regulating the sexual behavior of Ladyfish. Limpet, however, falls back on his human persona, the safety of his human weakness, and demurs. It is only after he becomes a war hero, and properly divorces his wife, that he is finally able to accept his position as a free animal, powerful and amoral sovereign of his newly adopted world.
|A weird and happy ending|
He directed several films in the Francis the Talking Mule series and was the producer and director of the entire run of Mr. Ed, the show about a talking horse.
Mr. Ed, like Ladyfish, has no real sense of human right and wrong, but has such ideas imposed on him by a human, in this case a character named Wilbur Post.
Following the logic of the above essay, it becomes apparent that Wilbur Post has none of Henry Limpet’s problems of sexual inadequacy. Posts are strong and virile, after all, but the “name as a clue to sexual potency” idiom breaks down here, and a post becomes merely something to tie your horse to.