Saturday, July 26, 2014

"Romeo and Juliet" - Andy Griffith Style (1962)

The Andy Griffith Show was always one of my favorites. The mixture of comedy with some basic lessons in life was the hallmark of the show, and it wasn't lost on me. I actually "got" it. When Opie killed a bird I knew it was wrong; just as I knew that his father's solution to have Opie care for that bird's hatch-ling was right.

In this classic episode Sheriff Taylor has been a bit humiliated. The night before this scene takes place he was confronted at home by 2 young people wanting to get "hitched" by that Justice of the Peace. Although both were of legal age the sheriff was unable to complete the ceremony when the fathers of the bride and groom showed up with shotguns. It seems that the two families were "a fueding";  in the parlance of the time and place.

Andy needs to recover his "lost face" and begins by explaining his actions; or non-actions; of the night before by making an appropriate comparison between the situation at hand and Romeo and Juliet. This is what made Andy Griffith so famous to begin with. He told stories. His legendary "What It Was Was Football" is the vehicle which took him from the Ed Sullivan Show to headlining on Broadway in "No Time for Sergeants."

From there he hit the screen with an Oscar worthy performance as Lonesome Rhodes in the 1958 film “A Face in the Crowd” which co-starred Patricia Neal. In that film Andy Griffith gives one of the best performances of his career as a drunken guitar playing bum who finds himself catapulted to fame. 

It’s not a pretty picture to watch as he becomes a controlling and nasty individual, pushing away all those who love him. It’s a far cry from the roles he became known for as Sheriff Taylor on TV’s “The Andy Griffith Show” and later as the homey attorney “Matlock.” If you have never seen the film before, you should.

Meantime, enjoy the clip above and hit you tube for a peek at Andy Griffith playing Lonesome Rhodes in “A Face in the Crowd.” You will be astonished. Here’s a clip; make sure you catch the performance at about 3 minutes into the clip. 

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