Thursday, December 8, 2016

Andy Griffith, In the Heat of the Night

 "I do want to thank you for offering such a powerful piece of manpower as Virgil Tibbs."

Now I'm sitting here with The Andy Griffith Show on in the next room. Andy pulls over a speeder, gives her a ticket. She wants to pay the ticket and be on her way, so she goes before the Justice of the Peace who is also Andy Griffith. When she points out the obvious conflict of interest, the arresting officer serving as judge, he charges her with contempt of court and keeps increasing the fines as she objects then throws her in jail, all over a ten dollar speeding ticket. Sort of a sit-com version of Nightmare in Badham County. And, strangely, we're supposed to be on Andy Griffith's side.

There's a whole genre of movies about innocent Northerners venturing into the South and ending up in prison or on chain gangs, railroaded by corrupt law enforcement and courts or simply being hunted down by backward rednecks.

The fact is that Andy Griffith was good at playing evil characters. There was A Face in the Crowd, he played a con artist on an episode of Hawaii Five-O and played a wealthy lawyer who hunts an impoverished hippie for sport in Savages. But his evil side came through in this show, too.

In a recent post, I made what even I thought was a weak joke suggesting they could have made the police chief in In the Heat of the Night more Andy Griffith-like, but maybe I wasn't that far off.

"A hundred and sixty-two dollars and thirty-nine cents a week? Well boy! Barney, you take him outside but treat him nice, because a man that makes a hundred and sixty-two dollars and thirty-nine cents a week, we do not want to ruffle him."

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