Check and Double Check

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Check and Double Check
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Melville W. Brown
Produced by William LeBaron
Written by Bert Kalmar
J. Walter Ruben
Harry Ruby
Starring Charles Correll
Freeman Gosden
Cinematography William Marshall
Edited by Claude Berkeley
RKO Radio Pictures
Distributed by RKO Radio Pictures
Release date(s)
  • October 25, 1930 (1930-10-25)[1]
Running time 77 mins.
Country United States
Language English
Budget $967,000[2]
Box office 1,810,000[2]

Check and Double Check is a 1930 comedy film made and released by RKO Radio Pictures based on the then-popular Amos 'n' Andy radio show. The title was derived from a catchphrase associated with the show.



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 members were too light skinned. So valve trombonist 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 very profitable for RKO, earning a profit of $260,000,[2] 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. In 1958, the film entered the public domain (in the USA) due to the claimants failure to renew its copyright registration in the 28th year after publication.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Check and Double Check: Detail View". American Film Institute. Retrieved April 16, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c Richard Jewel, 'RKO Film Grosses: 1931-1951', Historical Journal of Film Radio and Television, Vol 14 No 1, 1994 p56
  3. ^ Pierce, David (June 2007). "Forgotten Faces: Why Some of Our Cinema Heritage Is Part of the Public Domain". Film History: An International Journal 19 (2): 125–43. doi:10.2979/FIL.2007.19.2.125. ISSN 0892-2160. JSTOR 25165419. OCLC 15122313. 

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