Check and Double Check (1930)

70-71 mins | Comedy | 25 October 1930

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HISTORY

The opening title card of this film reads: "Radio Pictures Presents Amos 'n' Andy (By Arrangement With National Broadcasting Company) in Check and Double Check ." Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby's onscreen credit is for "Story, Dialogue and Music" and Max Rée's credit is for "Scenery and Costumes." Check and Double Check was the only film to feature the African-American characters "Amos" and "Andy," the enormously popular radio personnas of white actors Freeman F. Gosden and Charles J. Correll. In the film, Gosden and Correll were made up to appear black, while on their radio show, they assumed their characters through speech mannerisms. In 1926, Gosden and Correll began their radio show in Chicago with the characters "Sam" and "Henry," who evolved into "Amos" and "Andy" two years later when the actors switched stations. In 1929, the show began broadcasting on NBC, where it stayed until 1948, when Gosden and Correll moved to CBS.
       Although Amos 'n' Andy ended in 1954, Gosden and Correll continued the characters in The Amos and Andy Music Hall , which was canceled in 1960, as well as supervising the Amos 'n' Andy television show. The television program, which was broadcast on the CBS network from Jun 1951 to Jun 1953, starred African-American actors Spencer Williams as "Andy," Alvin Childress as "Amos" and Tim Moore as "Kingfish." Only African-American actors were featured in the black roles on the television show, which was eventually canceled due to pressure from the NAACP and other groups. Despite the occasional controversy surrounding them, Gosden and Correll's characters are remembered for their astonishing popularity during ... More Less

The opening title card of this film reads: "Radio Pictures Presents Amos 'n' Andy (By Arrangement With National Broadcasting Company) in Check and Double Check ." Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby's onscreen credit is for "Story, Dialogue and Music" and Max Rée's credit is for "Scenery and Costumes." Check and Double Check was the only film to feature the African-American characters "Amos" and "Andy," the enormously popular radio personnas of white actors Freeman F. Gosden and Charles J. Correll. In the film, Gosden and Correll were made up to appear black, while on their radio show, they assumed their characters through speech mannerisms. In 1926, Gosden and Correll began their radio show in Chicago with the characters "Sam" and "Henry," who evolved into "Amos" and "Andy" two years later when the actors switched stations. In 1929, the show began broadcasting on NBC, where it stayed until 1948, when Gosden and Correll moved to CBS.
       Although Amos 'n' Andy ended in 1954, Gosden and Correll continued the characters in The Amos and Andy Music Hall , which was canceled in 1960, as well as supervising the Amos 'n' Andy television show. The television program, which was broadcast on the CBS network from Jun 1951 to Jun 1953, starred African-American actors Spencer Williams as "Andy," Alvin Childress as "Amos" and Tim Moore as "Kingfish." Only African-American actors were featured in the black roles on the television show, which was eventually canceled due to pressure from the NAACP and other groups. Despite the occasional controversy surrounding them, Gosden and Correll's characters are remembered for their astonishing popularity during the 1930s, when approximately forty million Americans tuned into their radios six nights a week to follow their adventures.
       Check and Double Check received mostly positive reviews, with Var terming it "the best picture for children ever put on the screen." The MPN reviewer commented: "RKO, in making this picture, has closely watched the racial situation and is well protected against injuring the feelings of either blacks or whites. In only one scene are the two classes shown together, and then with no familiarity. Southern cities, where racial feelings may be pronounced, will find nothing in the picture to cause objection." The film did not perform well as the box office, however, and no further pictures featuring the team were produced.
       "The Perfect Song," which appears over the credits, was the theme song for the "Amos 'n' Andy" radio and televison shows. Some modern sources state that "Ring Dem Bells," written by Duke Ellington and Irving Mills, was performed by Ellington and his orchestra in the film. According to a modern source interview with Ellington, Kalmar and Ruby wrote "Three Little Words" for Ellington's drummer Sonny Greer, but when Greer arrived in Hollywood, he was overcome by stage fright and did not want to sing the song in the film. The song was instead recorded by The Rhythm Boys (Bing Crosby, Harry Barris and Al Rinker) and Ellington's three trumpet players performed to a playback of the song during filming. "Three Little Words" became one of Kalmar and Ruby's most popular songs, and was the title of the 1950 M-G-M film biography of the songwriting team. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
EHW
4 Oct 1930
p. 29.
Film Daily
12 Oct 1930
p. 14.
MPN
4 Oct 1930.
---
New York Times
1 Nov 1930
p. 23.
New Yorker
8 Nov 1930
p. 93.
Variety
8 Oct 1930
p. 22.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Adpt and cont
Story and dial
Story and dial
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Scenery
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
COSTUMES
Cost
SOUND
SOURCES
MUSIC
"The Perfect Song," by Joseph Carl Breil
"East St. Louis Toodle-O," by James "Bubber" Miley and Duke Ellington
"Old Man Blues," by Duke Ellington and Irving Mills.
SONGS
"Three Little Words" and "Nobody Knows But the Lord," music by Harry Ruby, lyrics by Bert Kalmar.
DETAILS
Release Date:
25 October 1930
Premiere Information:
New York premiere: 31 October 1930
Production Date:
31 July--5 September 1930
retakes 9, 11, 16 and 22 September 1930.
Copyright Claimant:
RKO Radio Pictures, inc.
Copyright Date:
8 October 1930
Copyright Number:
LP1616
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Photophone System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
70-71
Length(in feet):
6,923
Length(in reels):
9
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

Wealthy John Blair and his wife are going to the train station to meet Richard Williams, an old family friend, when a traffic jam causes them to be late. The snarl of cars is caused by Amos and Andy, two black men from Harlem who run the Freshair Taxicab Co., whose one vehicle, an old clunker without a top, refuses to start. A policeman helps the baffled Amos and Andy on their way, but the Blairs are too late to meet Richard's train. Richard takes a cab to the Blairs's country home, and on the way he meets their daughter Jean, who was his childhood sweetheart. Richard, whose family moved to the South and fell on hard times after his father's death, is instantly attracted to Jean. She reciprocates his feelings, much to the annoyance of her would-be suitor, Ralph Crawford. Meanwhile, Amos and Andy have returned to their garage office in Harlem, where they receive a phone call from their lady friends, Madame Queen and Ruby Taylor, who want them to go to a dance that evening. Amos and Andy happily agree, although they must wait to join the girls until after their meeting at their lodge, the Mystic Knights of the Sea. Kingfish, who is one of their lodge brothers, arrives and informs them that he has arranged for them to transport Duke Ellington and his Cotton Club Orchestra to the Blairs's home for Jean's birthday party. That night, Amos and Andy then drive the band to the country estate, where Ralph is becoming increasingly jealous of Richard, who has rapidly gained the approval of Mr. and Mrs. Blair. Ralph ... +


Wealthy John Blair and his wife are going to the train station to meet Richard Williams, an old family friend, when a traffic jam causes them to be late. The snarl of cars is caused by Amos and Andy, two black men from Harlem who run the Freshair Taxicab Co., whose one vehicle, an old clunker without a top, refuses to start. A policeman helps the baffled Amos and Andy on their way, but the Blairs are too late to meet Richard's train. Richard takes a cab to the Blairs's country home, and on the way he meets their daughter Jean, who was his childhood sweetheart. Richard, whose family moved to the South and fell on hard times after his father's death, is instantly attracted to Jean. She reciprocates his feelings, much to the annoyance of her would-be suitor, Ralph Crawford. Meanwhile, Amos and Andy have returned to their garage office in Harlem, where they receive a phone call from their lady friends, Madame Queen and Ruby Taylor, who want them to go to a dance that evening. Amos and Andy happily agree, although they must wait to join the girls until after their meeting at their lodge, the Mystic Knights of the Sea. Kingfish, who is one of their lodge brothers, arrives and informs them that he has arranged for them to transport Duke Ellington and his Cotton Club Orchestra to the Blairs's home for Jean's birthday party. That night, Amos and Andy then drive the band to the country estate, where Ralph is becoming increasingly jealous of Richard, who has rapidly gained the approval of Mr. and Mrs. Blair. Ralph eavesdrops as Richard confides in Blair that he hopes to find the deed to a large house in Harlem, which was owned by his grandfather. Richard believes that the deed is hidden somewhere on the property and that if he can find it, he can sell the house for a large enough profit to set himself up in business and marry Jean. After his discussion with Blair, Richard runs into Amos and Andy, who used to work for his father in Georgia. Amos and Andy are thrilled to see Richard, and after they reminisce with him, they return to town and attend their lodge meeting. To honor the lodge's founder, who was lost at sea on the same day years previously, two members must go to the old Williams house, which is reputed to be haunted and find a paper marked "Check and Double Check." They then must hide a similarly marked paper to be found the following year and return the note they found to the lodge to prove their completion of the task. Andy draws the unlucky number and chooses Amos to accompany him, after which they are taken to the house and locked in. Ralph and his henchman are already at the house searching for the deed, which is instead found by Amos and Andy. When Ralph discovers Amos and Andy there, he and his henchman terrorize the pair into handing over the paper, which, much to their chagrin, turns out to be the "Check and Double Check" note. Amos and Andy are in turn very disappointed the next day when they discover that they have the deed and not the note, but Amos reasons that the deed, which bears Richard's grandfather's name, must be important and should be given to Richard. Meanwhile, at the Blair estate, Richard bids a sad farewell to Jean, for although he loves her, he feels that he cannot marry her because he did not find the deed. After Richard leaves for the train station, Amos and Andy call the Blairs to find him. They then rush to the station and find Richard just as he is boarding his train. With the deed in hand, Richard thanks Amos and Andy for insuring his future happiness. Several days later, while Amos and Andy are in their garage bemoaning the fact that Madame Queen and Ruby still have not forgiven them for breaking their date to go dancing, they receive part of Jean and Richard's wedding cake as a present. Just then, Ruby calls and tells Andy that she and Madame Queen are no longer angry with them. Amos and Andy then rush out to take the cake to their girl friends, but drop the cake in the street and it is run over by a truck. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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