"I can recall walking past motion picture theaters and seeing signs promising to stop the movie and turn on the radio when it came time for the show."
----Jack Benny

Although radio legend Jack Benny was discussing the popularity of the Amos n' Andy radio show in the above quote, one can only wonder what happened when Correll and Gosden's first (and last) feature film was being screened when the radio program came on. For the sake of the blackface duo, it is hoped theater owners stopped the projector and turned on the radio to remind fans why they had come to sit through this screen disappointment in the first place.

Check and Double-Check, released in 1930 by RKO pictures, was a heavily promoted critical and commercial disappointment. Amos and Andy are actually secondary players in their own movie. According to Melvin Ely, producers feared that Correll and Gosden's fifteen minute radio shows would be difficult to carry a full-length feature and so, they supplemented the duo with a love triangle between three white people (including the son of Amos and Andy's former employer), a haunted house, and a missing will. (p 125)

The filmmakers' acknowledgement that the radio program itself would not translate into a good movie is an accurate one but they ultimately fail to connect the Hollywood standbys (read cliches) with parts featuring the comic duo. One early scene is representative of the film's bid for moving Amos n' Andy to a primarily visual medium.

Once the key participants of the love triangle and the comic duo are introduced, the scene moves to a montage of outdoor images of real African-Americans at work and play. A city-scape of Harlem, shoe-shines working feverishly, people on a busy sidewalk, kids playing stick ball in a back lot, and a dancer and banjo player entertaining a large crowd, all flicker across the screen before the camera moves indoors to the Fresh Air Taxi Company and the imagined world of Amos n' Andy.

Although these outdoor scenes last for only a few seconds, they are a visual concession to the differences between film and radio. The audio cues offered over the airwaves only meets half of the requirements of the motion picture. By borrowing techniques for the documentaries of the era, the camera attempts to establish the authenticity of the indoor scene by locating it in the midst of these legitimately black activities.

Since we have seen the outdoor (or public) life of African-Americans, when this montage is followed by Correll and Gosden inside and in blackface, they become representative of the indoor (or private) black world. The substitution of these white men in makeup is visually acceptable because of the preceding images of real African-Americans.

After the film makes a bid to distinguish itself from radio, however, the interchange between Amos and Andy falls back on standard radio conventions. Physical ovement in the scene is purely incidental--all the real motion takes place in the dialogue. When the telephone rings and the duo begins speaking to their respective love interests, the women are never heard. Instead, as in the radio show, their voices are filtered through Amos and Andy. This provides the film with an opportunity to borrow a standard radio routine as Amos repeats everything Andy says into the phone.

This is a familiar bit that dates back to the day of Sam n' Henry. Two examples of variations of the skit are available as:

The strength of this joke as a radio gag lies its audio cues. By using a character's verbal clumsiness, the audience hears the lines as both a distant observer and the person being addressed. The power of the joke then moves from the comic delivering the line to the audience imagining the shock of the listener on the receiving end.

This bit works wonderfully as a purely verbal joke and it's not surprising that Correll and Gosden repeated it as often as they did. On the screen, however, the static visual cues detract from the desired effect. As with the rest of the scene featuring Amos and Andy, there really is little need to see them performing their radio routine and the only visual cue enhancing the performance is the blackface makeup they seem to have transcended when making live appearances.

When the phone routine ends, Amos and Andy start arguing over how impractical Andy has become since he moved to the big city. This prompts Amos to recall the happier days when they were in the South, working on a farm for Mr. Williams, their white benefactor.

Amos' nostalgia serves two key purposes in this scene. In terms of the movie, it attempts to connect the duo's scenes--which, as we have seen, are usually a filmed version of their radio routine-- with the film's love triangle since Mr. Williams' son is one of the participant. More importantly, it introduces a longing for the past that was common in the Correll and Gosden's characters. Whether one views this as a positive or negative attribute, as we shall see, all depends on who you ask.