The Andy Griffith Role You Might Have Missed

Griffith’s first movie role was Lonesome Rhodes in ‘A Face in the Crowd.’ He played one of the most despicable on-screen characters ever–a two faced, power hungry megalomaniac. Rhodes was a backwoods musician catapulted to instant fame on television. Once he saw what his fame brought he wanted more and wouldn’t let truth, propriety, or even the contempt he held for his own fans stand in his way.

Sadly, Andy Griffith died today. There will be remembrances and accolades. His career was long and full of success.

From Twitter: Ron Howard ‏@RealRonHoward
Andy Griffith His pursuit of excellence and the joy he took in creating served generations & shaped my life I’m forever grateful RIP Andy

Most of us remember Andy as Sheriff Andy Taylor (249 episodes) or as Matlock (181 episodes). There’s one more role you might have missed.

Griffith’s first movie role was Lonesome Rhodes in ‘A Face in the Crowd.’ He played one of the most despicable on-screen characters ever–a two faced, power hungry megalomaniac. Rhodes was a backwoods musician catapulted to instant fame on television. Once he saw what his fame brought he wanted more and wouldn’t let truth, propriety, or even the contempt he held for his own fans stand in his way.

The movie starred Griffith and Patricia Neal. It was written by Budd Schulberg and directed by Elia Kazan who had paired earlier for Brando’s ‘On The Waterfront.’.

From Bosley Crowther’s review, New York Times – May 29, 1957: In a way, it is not surprising that this flamboyant Lonesome Rhodes dominates the other characters in the story and consequently the show. For Mr. Schulberg has penned a powerful person of the raw, vulgar, roughneck, cornball breed, and Mr. Griffith plays him with thunderous vigor, under the guidance of Mr. Kazan.

This is Andy Griffith in a way you’ve never seen him. He was gritty and evil.

The movie still runs on Turner Classic Movies from time-to-time. It was a role of a lifetime and worth seeing even today.

Dan In Real Life

Helaine got to choose the movie Saturday night. This responsibility used to rotate, but she’s so much better than I am at picking – why bother!

We went to North Haven to see the ‘sneak preview’ of “Dan in Real Life,” starring Steve Carell.

Years ago, a sneak preview was really that – a sneak. You didn’t know what you were seeing until you got there. Not so now.

By and large movie studios ‘sneak’ movies they expect will produce strong word-of-mouth. That’s a good selling point for seeing a movie none of your friends have seen.

Helaine worried the theater might be sold out, so on my way back from Yale, I stopped in to purchase tickets. It was less than half full. She’s better at picking flicks than guessing the gate.

“Dan in Real Life” is an emotional movie. We were primed before it even began. The coming attractions featured a trailer for “The Bucket List,” starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman.

We both cried like babies!

It was only a two and a half minute trailer. I’m bringing a box of Kleenex if I see the full film!

“Dan in Real Life” is the story of Dan Burns, (Steve Carell) a widower, raising three daughters. Family Affair, Courtship of Eddie’s Father, My Three Sons, Andy Griffith, The Rifleman, Bonanza… I’ve seen widowers and their children before.

It seemed like a plot device in those TV shows. It rang true here.

While at a family reunion in Rhode Island&#185, Dan meets Marie (Juliette Binoche). It’s a chance meeting at a bookstore, but there’s an immediate connection.

They part, only to run into each other again almost immediately. She is Dan’s brother’s girlfriend, also invited to the family weekend!

This is a story without a lot of surprises. The kids are cute and witty. His parents are level headed and supportive. Dan’s life, already in emotional upheaval from the death of his wife, is put on a spit over an open flame and turned.

There is little that doesn’t unfold as you expect.

A movie doesn’t have to be surprising to be good. Satisfying is enough. “Dan in Real Life” satisfies.

Carell’s Dan is a man worthy of empathy. Binoche’s Marie was worldly, attractive and cast as a love interest in a movie, without being fifteen years younger than the man the man she’s attracted to. For the record, Carell is 45, Binoche is 43!

Also in the cast, Dane Cook (annoying in this film, as I find him in real life), John Mahoney and Dianne Wiest. It’s a large supporting cast and mainly peripheral to Dan and Marie.

The concentration of sobs per minute was greater in the pre-show trailer for “The Bucket List,” but there was plenty of crying here too. There were lots of funny moments as well.

Good choice by Helaine again. I hereby forfeit my next turn as the Fox Family decider.

&#185 – Amazingly, no one spoke with a Rhode Island accent. In my opinion, it is the harshest accent in America, making Bostonians sound as if they’re from Nebraska.

Waitress – Saturday At The Movies

Stef is away today, celebrating the graduation of one of her sorority sisters. Helaine and I decided to go to the movies tonight.

We headed to the Criterion in New Haven for Waitress, starring Keri Russell.

The movie is the story of a waitress, in a loveless marriage, who finds herself both unwontedly pregnant and in love with her married gynecologist.

I suppose this is what’s called a small movie. It is heavily dependent on its very stylized look and really sharp cast. The story is simple and sweet

The movie itself is set in a small, seemingly downscale southern town. Much of the action takes place at a diner which specializes in pies – many expertly baked by Jenna (Keri Russell).

Andy Griffith (around my dad’s age, but looking much older) is excellent as Old Joe, the owner of the diner. More importantly, he is the uninvited elder philosopher in Jenna’s life. He will receive an Oscar nomination for this role.

I’m not sure how to explain this, but Earl (Jeremy Sisto), Jenna’s husband, is the least appealing (most repulsive) character I’ve ever seen in a film, without resorting to over-the-top characterization. He was just realistically creepy – not an easy task.

Helaine noticed Jenna’s love interest, Dr. Pomatter (Nathan Fillion) looked like a young Mike Sechrist. Mike’s a friend of mine.

I enjoyed this movie. Helaine enjoyed it even more. That’s probably going to be typical of many couples. It was a great Saturday afternoon date with my wife and a borderline chick flick.

Footnote:We like going to the movies, and this theater is nice and new. However, the print we saw was terrible. Here is the note I sent to the company that owns the theater.

My wife and I saw the 4:00 PM Saturday showing of Waitress at your New Haven theater. We like going to the movies and we’re glad you’re in New Haven. We’re glad the city is coming back and drove past another theater to get to you.

Unfortunately, the print for Waitress was horrendous. There were horizontal scratches visible for the entire show.

When I told a friend, he described the exact same scratches when he had seen Dreamgirls. Is there some sort of equipment problem in your theater that’s killing the prints?

I’m not asking for a refund. All I want to know is, you’ve gotten my message and you’ll fix the problem.

All the best,

Geoff Fox

Here’s their response:


We are unaware of any print problems in New Haven, and will address the situation immediately. I can assure you though, there is no recurring problem at that theater.


Old TV Remembered

Here it is the middle of the night and I’ve just finished watching “Make Room for Daddy” on Nickelodeon. It’s been a really long time since I’ve seen MRFD and this episode specifically.

This was the episode that spun off “The Andy Griffith Show.”

I didn’t get there for the very beginning. I saw the credits and saw I missed Frank Cady (Sam Drucker from Petticoat Junction, Beverly Hillbillies and Green Acres) and Rance Howard, Ron Howard’s father.

Also missing was Don Knotts. There was no deputy in this episode.

Ron Howard was there. Judging by looks, he was around three or four years old. Compared to comparably aged Olsen Twins, he could definitely act.

Andy referred to the relative who took care of Opie as Aunt Lucy. Lucy wasn’t seen but Francis Bavier, who would go on to play Aunt Bea, played a down on her luck townie.

As pilots go, and I suppose this can be considered the “Andy Griffith Show’s” pilot, it was pretty well fleshed out and quite similar to what ended up on the air. All this, of course, because the show was built totally around Andy’s persona.

I should say a few words about Danny Thomas. He was an overacting, self indulgent, and sparsely talented comedic lead. That’s why Andy Griffith’s show is the one we remember and Danny Thomas’ has faded away.