You may have whistled the tune once or twice while walking down main street - the theme song to "The Andy Griffith Show." Or you may remember your grandparents watching the legal drama with a white haired man cracking open murder cases.
In the television world, Andy Griffith made a timeless name for himself. With "The Andy Griffith Show" (1968), Andy starred as a widowed sheriff of small town called Mayberry, in North Carolina, where that whistling tune we all know so well stems from. And, years later, Andy Griffith re-introduced himself in legal drama titled "Matlock" (1986), where he took to court some of the most suspenseful cases. But, what many film goers don't know about Andy Griffith's acting abilities outside of television is that he was a consummate performer in film as well.
In a filmography that only totals a little more than a dozen films over a span of fifty years, Andy Griffith's talent is on display in a few of his motion pictures.
In "A Face in the Crowd" (1957), directed by Elia Kazan, Andy Griffith shot to stardom and mixed reviews in this mid western-set drama. In the starring role, Griffith commands the screen as Larry "Lonesome" Rhodes, a run-down drifter who is discovered by a small radio program. Though trial and tribulation, Rhodes reaches mega-stardom and fame through the influence of national television. Griffith performance as Rhodes is startlingly different and in contrast to his warm presence on "The Andy Griffith Show" as Sheriff Andy. When first released it received mixed reviews, and even today it is a little-known classic film. However, Griffith's performance remains the most applauded and praised aspect of the film. And, ultimately, in 2008, it was selected for preservation by the
United States National Film Registry.
Following "A Face In The Crowd", Griffith made a complete 180 on-screen with a comedic performance in "No Time For Sergeants" (1958). Starring most of the original Broadway cast, and Griffith's good television sidekick Don Knotts, Griffith plays Will Stockdale, an Air Force draftee and southern bumpkin who drives everyone around him absolutely bonkers, especially Sgt. Orville C. King, played by Myron McCormick. With smart humor and wacky wit, "No Time for Sergeants" was a major success for both Griffith and Knotts.
Most recently, in 2007, Andy Griffith had a supporting role in the drama "Waitress", starring Kerri Russell and Nathan Fillion. Russell stars as a diner waitress, Jenna, trapped in the American South by her abusive husband, Earl. To cope with her life, as a waitress in a diner, Jenna creates imaginative and mouth-watering pies. As the gruff diner owner, Joe, Griffith re-introduced himself to younger generations with his dry wit. If you stop by a Ma and Pa diner, it'll be hard not to think of Andy's minor yet impactful performance as Joe.
On July 3rd, 2012, Hollywood and the rest of the world was shocked with the news that the lovable sheriff from "The Andy Griffith Show" had passed away from a heart attack at his home. Some speculate he finally joined his good pal Barney (Don Knotts) in the sky to patrol heaven.