When Brooklyn WAS Flatbush

Yesterday afternoon I caught the beginning of "The Incredible Mr. Limpet," a 1964 film set during World War II. The film mixed live action and old-school cell animation. It starred Don Knotts as the piscophile Henry Limpet, who gets his wish and is magically transformed into a fish.

After he falls off a pier at Coney Island (loving the fake, Hollywood 1964 version of a 1940s era subway ride!), his body is never recovered (because he turned into a fish) and he's presumed dead. His obituary reveals that he resided at "1313 Pleasant Avenue, Flatbush," a non-existent street in Brooklyn.

But when he first meets his friend Crusty, the hermit crab:
Crusty: Say, what are you, anyway? You related to the porpoise family?
Henry: No, I'm a Limpet. Henry Limpet from Brooklyn. You know, Flatbush.
Oh proud Flatbushian, Henry Limpet, laying claim to all of Brooklyn, we salute you!

Crusty goes on to call him "Flatbush" for the rest of the film.

This was one of my favorite childhood films. Of course, I identified with Don Knotts' character, a bookish, withdrawn person who identified more with the animal world than his human clan. In particular, I lived in Florida at the time and loved fish and all things aquatic. Later, during my adolescence, I maintained several aquariums; I wept when my pet Oscar jumped out of the tank for the last time. When I was 12 years old, my answer to "What do you want to be when you grow up?" was "either a marine biologist or a neuro-surgeon." Needless to say, I'm neither, today, but the interests remain.


Anonymous said...

I loved that film when I was a kid! And I even remember the apartment where I watched it...Utica near Tilden. Flatbush, baby!

Peregrine said...

Excuse me Flatbsh IS Brooklyn.