Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Andy Griffith, 1926-2012

Andy Griffith and Patricia Neal in A Face in the Crowd (1957)

Andy Griffith passed away this morning at his home in North Carolina, a month after his 86th birthday. Griffith actually didn't make that many movies. The reason for this, of course, is that in 1960 he started working on The Andy Griffith Show, where he played Mayberry Sheriff Andy Taylor. The show was enormously popular, and it led to him not doing much other work during the eight years that it ran. Or, at least, not much that would get him acting credits; he made cameos an quite a few TV shows. Griffith would go on to play another very popular TV character, the lawyer Ben Matlock, on the show Matlock which ran for nine seasons. In between, he did a fair number of TV movies, a small number of movies for the big screen, and the usual amount of guest starring roles that a lot of older actors were doing.

The picture above is Griffith with Patricia Neal in the movie A Face in the Crowd. Griffith plays the Arkansas yokel Lonesome Rhodes, who gets discovered by Neal's character, a big-city journalist. Rhodes' populist homespun wisdom and willingness to pull no punches in his commentary makes him a big hit with the viewers, but he lets power go to his head and become an extreme jerk to everybody around him. A Face in the Crowd was already on the TCM schedule: on Thursday night, Spike Lee visits TCM for his stint as Guest Programmer, and A Face in the Crowd is the last of Lee's selections. It airs at 1:45 AM Friday.

I don't know yet if TCM is going to plan any further tribute to Griffith.

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