Kingfish has an opportunity to reap a huge profit from some shares of stock in Consolidated Glass Company that he bought years ago. Trouble is, he subsequently sold the shares to Andy, and now he has...
When Andrew Sterling, a successful black urbanite writer buys a vacation home on a resort in New England the police mistake him for a burglar. After surrounding his home with armed men, ... See full summary »
E. Max Frye
Samuel L. Jackson,
After the show was canceled with 65 episodes, CBS wanted to syndicate the reruns but felt that they needed more shows. The cast was brought back to film an additional 13 episodes to premiere in syndication. These episodes were originally to be titled "The Adventures of Kingfish" but premiered with the "Amos 'n Andy" rerun package instead. See more »
I've just watched a documentary on African-Americans on television which showed several clips from "Amos and Andy". It got me thinking about this show that I watched when it was syndicated in our area 40 years ago. For the record I am a middle-class white male, but I don't think it really matters that much. I haven't seen an entire episode in decades but my memories of the show seem to be similar to others so I will trust them. I too, agree that the show has something of a bad rap but I think the reasons why are interesting.
I agree with the several posters who have compared this to "The Honeymooners", which was obviously influenced by it. You have the men out front, not as smart as they think they are, hatching various schemes to make their dreams come true or cover up their missteps while smarter females lecture them for their foolishness when the smoke clears. Things like the lodge they belong to are obvious parallels. If the Honeymooners could be a classic, why couldn't Amos and Andy? The characters are not servants or shoe-shine boys. It's whole black community. I remember noticing that all the characters were black when I was a kid but just regarded it as a peculiarity. If the show taught me anything about blacks is that they are just like everyone else. Is that harmful? I agree that the fact that the series gave black performers jobs is not an "excuse" for racial stereotyping. But just search the IMDb for a look at the actor's careers after this show ended. Spencer Williams's career basically ended. Alvin Childress showed up on Perry Mason as a janitor. Tim Moore was blacklisted, (an ironic term). There's something to be said for employment.
So why is this show linked with Stepin Fetchit or "Rochester" as an example of black stereotyping such that it's been essentially banned from TV for four decades through the efforts of the NAACP, (ironic that Moore was banned by rightists and his show by leftists)? Firstly, while it does present an entire black community, it does use traditional elements of black humor- exaggerated dialects, references to lazy or untrustworthy characters, etc. However the same elements are present in later "black" shows such as "Good Times", which were not banned.
Perhaps a stronger reason was that the show was created and performed on radio by two white men, Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll, who had appeared on film playing the characters in blackface. That further links the show to racist stereotyping and illustrates that its genesis was certainly in the white man's view of comical black men. However subsequent documentaries have indicated that Gosden and Correll were anything but racists themselves and were respected by their TV counterparts who went on to make the characters their own in a series that was much toned down from the radio show.
I think perhaps the biggest problem with Amos and Andy is that it was the only show that attempted to depict black life in America in the 1950's. Whites had Joe Friday and Paladin and Dr. Kildare, so when they watched Ralph and Ed they didn't look at them as representatives of the white race. They just looked at them as a couple of funny guys. Blacks had no Joe Friday or Paladin or Dr. Kildare so these comic characters became their symbol. When it came time to move on, they were left behind.
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