Andy Griffith

When I heard that Andy Griffith passed away on July 3, 2012, I felt the urge to blog about it because I always liked him. I remembered him first and foremost from the Andy Griffith show that I watched along with my grandparents when I visited their apartment as a young child. Afternoons of beans and wieners followed by the iconic whistling intro, were fondly remembered, with the image of the even tempered Andy walking along a road with an exited child actor running along beside him named Ron Howard, as Opie. It always seemed a wholesome bit of TV, so from that point on, I always equated Andy with wholesomeness.

Upon Andy’s death, I did a little bit of looking into his old roles. Many of his shows I had not seen, although there was some more reminiscing when I came across Matlock again, which I occasionally watched with my family, and vague recollections of watching the Waitress and Spy Hard. Since I can’t seem to stay away from my local library, I also managed to dig up some other movies by Andy, such as No Time for Sergeants, an old black and white from ’58 that showed Andy as a bumbling farm boy flexing his comedic chops in the air force. His dopy, yet endearing, character was just so fun to watch. There was even a short role in the film for Don Knotts, Andy’s eventual Mayberry sidekick, which is all the more fun because this film actually predates the Andy Griffith Show by 2 years.

I may have watched one of his more powerful performances when I found Andy’s portrayal of Larry ‘Lonesome’ Rhoads in his very first movie, A Face in the Crowd, from 1957. This was the first time I’d seen Andy play such a vibrantly charismatic jerk, with his leering cockiness and spontaneously rebellious, and fairly well played, songs. There was something about his amazing crazy eyed intensity I found captivating, perhaps simply because it’s in such stark contrast to the Andy characters I always thought I knew. The plot was one I’d seen before, generally about how power and fame corrupts, but this was a film set way before its time, and it accurately depicts some of what we have going on in media and entertainment today, 55 years later.  With a young Walter Mathau with some classic and insightful lines and Patricia Neal doing a smart, dedicated-to-a-fault, supporting female lead, this movie really was fantastic. The trailer doesn’t really do it justice, but you can find it below, along with a short clip from No Time for Sergeants and a little Andy Griffith show for good measure.

Andy was a talented actor, a treasure that touched the lives of many in Hollywood and around the world. This fatherly icon showed people, through his Mayberry character, what characteristics fathers could and should embody. That they could be strong, funny, wholesome, fair and kind. I miss that in television, and I’ll miss Andy Griffith.

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10 thoughts on “Andy Griffith

  1. I loved Andy Griffith. What a great actor! Thanks for writing about him and stirring up all the memories. Thanks, also for visiting my site. Hope you enjoyed it. I’ll be back!

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  2. I watched Faces in the Crowd, expecting Andy Griffith, and was really surprised. But it made me realize what a good actor he was. My first acquaintance with him was No Time For Sergeants, which I think Gomer Pyle must have been based on. I thought the movie was hilarious, and I just loved Andy as a big bumbling good-hearted not-as-dumb-as-he-looks kind of guy. I went to see Waitress because I really like Nathan Fillion from Firefly. As it turned out, I didn’t care much for the role Nathan played, and I was SO glad their relationship turned out the way it did for the protagonist’s sake (no spoilers here for your readers), but I thought Andy did a great job playing a good-hearted curmudgeon.

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    • It was totally the same for me. It wasn’t until this movie where I really saw how great a range he had as an actor, I really had no idea he was so amazing. I also watched No Time for Sergeants and liked it a lot since it was so much like the Andy character I had known and loved. He surprised me in the waitress since I also watched that movie for Nathan Fillion (Firefly is awesome!) and didn’t realize that Andy was in it. 🙂 It was definitely a pleasant surprise.

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  3. Pingback: “I coulda been a contender” – On the Waterfront – review | Lives In Stone

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