The late Andy Griffith was a steadfast optimist in his day.
During an archived interview with Fred Griffith on The Morning Exchange, Andy chatted about his 1957 film titled A Face in the Crowd. The movie was a bust when it premiered. But decades later, it was a cult classic.
A Face in the Crowd was a psychological thriller that surrounded a “megalomaniac” named Larry “Lonesome” Rhodes, who managed to manipulate all of America. But in the end, society was able to see Lonesome for who he was.
As Andy Griffith pointed out, the plot had a profound message.
“The [movie] made the comment at the end that these people come along, but the American people are always bright enough that before it’s too late, they recognize them for what they are,” he shared. “And they lose their power. And I think that must be true.”
At the time of the interview, the U.S. was still embroiled in the Vietnam war, which prompted Fred Griffith to note that people were “doing a lot of soul searching” and “worrying about values.”
So Fred wondered if the Matlock star was “an optimist about the human condition?” And it turns out that he was. Andy told a story about meeting a so-called psychic to explain why.
“[The psycic] predicted that the Earth’s gonna end at the end of the 20th century because there’s a lot of earthquakes and volcanos and stuff falling low enough. And I can’t believe that,” he admitted.
As Andy Griffith continued, he said that the prediction was silly because the Earth is always changing. And furthermore, the planet “got to look the way it does now through earthquakes and volcanos and change and wind and water and all that business and storms.”
So it didn’t make sense to believe that the natural process would destroy all life. And the actor said that like Earth, people have also been changing throughout history.
“Our human nature has changed,” he concluded. “And we will continue to change. And hopefully, we’re changing for the better all the time. Wouldn’t you think so?”
Andy Griffith was Determined to Make ‘Matlock’ Funnier than ‘Perry Mason’
When Andy Griffith set out with his now-famous courtroom drama Matlock, he was determined to add a comedic flair to the script.
Though he played a lawyer, Griffith wasn’t too concerned about his actual profession. “I knew that somebody else was there to look after the law part,” Griffith told MeTV. “I just wanted it to be entertaining within that framework.”
So Andy, who has a comedic background, made it his mission to make audiences laugh. And he did so famously.
“I would orchestrate those fights often,” he revealed. “I would get myself thrown out of the courtroom. Put in jail. Because it was funny. Hot dogs. This character loved hot dogs. That’s funny.”
Most of us at Outsider agree that Griffith managed to beat out Perry Mason with laughs, but you can judge for yourselves. Reruns of both the classic series air on channels throughout the country—just check your local listings.