The last few days have been a remembrance of Andy Griffith in my house. Caring sheriff, nurturing father, occasional football fan. It’s easy to follow down those dirt roads and find a solid figure for all of our dreams and memories. The Andy Griffith Show holds a special place in our hearts still today because of the world we wanted to live rather than the one we struggled through.
The brilliance of Andy Griffith comes from his understanding of where we live to be able to project that world we wanted. Perhaps that can be seen best when Andy showed us ourselves – warts, grifts and all.
Elia Kazan’s incredible film A FACE IN THE CROWD let Andy play a man, Lonesome Rhodes, who turned his back when Andy Taylor would have turned the other cheek. The film follows a country yokel who understands how to manipulate people to get his way. You can’t see how Opie learned his lessons and not realize that Sheriff Taylor did the same thing every week – but for much better ends.
Regardless of what you think of Keith Olberman, or Elia Kazan, for the matter, A FACE IN THE CROWD continues to be an important reflection of who we are as people and needs to be seen by audiences world-wide. The ideas and polemics of the film scream for better understanding because at the core is a real man who we can all relate – Andy Griffith. He was someone who saw our flaws, or weaknesses, and tried to give us another dirty to follow instead.
BTW, if you want to remember Andy in a lighter touch, try his appearance in the wonderful Adrienne Shelly film WAITRESS. He swears, he eats pie, it’s in color.