- Check and Double Check
Check and Double Check
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Melville W. Brown Produced by William LeBaron Written by Bert Kalmar
J. Walter Ruben
Starring Charles Correll
Cinematography William Marshall Editing by Claude Berkeley Distributed by RKO Radio Pictures Release date(s) October 23, 1930 Running time 77 mins. Country United States Language English
The making of the picture posed several problems. Perhaps foremost was the fact that the characters of the program were portrayed as blacks but were in fact entirely voiced by whites. This had posed no problem on the radio, but obviously would not be suitable for a film where the actors could be seen as well as heard. Rather than hire black actors for the roles and instruct them to imitate to the maximum extent possible the very stereotypical voices used by the radio performers, program creators Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll performed the roles themselves in blackface.
Another problem was the attempt to base a full-length picture on a 15-minute long radio program. In order to do this, the film's producers unwisely decided to flesh out the story with a love triangle involving white characters, essentially making Amos and Andy minor characters in what was marketed as a film about them.
Duke Ellington and his band were invited to be a part of the film, not just to provide the music but also to appear performing in the film itself. This helped propel Ellington into a national spotlight.
The director did not want to give audiences the impression that Ellington's band was racially integrated, and was worried that two band band members were too light skinned. So tenor sax man Juan Tizol, who was Puerto Rican, and clarinetist Barney Bigard, a Creole, wore stage makeup to appear as dark as Amos and Andy on film.
The film was quite profitable for RKO but critically panned and a disappointment to many moviegoers. Two animated short films were made following Check and Double Check: The Rasslin' Match and The Lion Tamer. However, no sequel was ever produced and there were no further attempts at live-action portrayals of Amos 'n' Andy until the advent of network television. Today, the film is in the public domain, and several DVD editions exist.
- Freeman F. Gosden as Amos
- Charles J. Correll as Andy Brown
- Sue Carol as Jean Blair
- Irene Rich as Mrs Blair
- Ralf Harolde as Ralph Crawford
- Charles Morton as Richard Williams
- Edward Martindel as John Blair
- Rita La Roy as Elinor Crawford
- Russ Powell as Kingfish
- Roscoe Ates as Brother Arthur
- List of films in the public domain
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