The Andy Griffith Show: Season 1/ Episode 15: Those Gossipin’ Men. January 16, 1961. 4 1/2 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS.
Andy walks in on Aunt Bee, Emma Brand and Clara Lindsay in Walker’s Drug Store gossiping. He starts to tease them about it. Andy had come across the street to the drug store to get something for Barney who had hurt his finger taking his gun apart. The women in a period of 3 1/2 hours have Barney going from hurting his finger to shooting himself in the chest to being dead. This seems to prove Andy’s point about the women and their gossip.
Next up- Bee and Emma are eating at Walker’s Drug Store and are talking about how men are just as bad at gossiping. Think of all the talk that goes on at Floyd’s Barber Shop. In walks a very drab, colorless man who says he’s from New York and he’s in town to sell shoes. Andy and Barney of course stop in and after the salesman leaves Bee gets the idea to plant a little seed of doubt in his story to Andy- to see how he will run with it.
When Andy and Barney leave the drug store- Andy decides to head straight for the hotel where the salesman had checked in. Andy has taken the bait. Why would a shoe salesman from New York City be in Mayberry?
All the shoe salesman- Wilbur Finch has to do is ask Jason who runs the hotel if he can rent a television for the night. He mentions that television is very important to him. Before you know it- the story around town is Mr. Finch is a talent scout for the television show Manhattan Shoe Time.
Finch comes back to his hotel room and is planning on checking out. He had a terrible day selling shoes so why hang around. Then Floyd shows up at his door with his son. While Floyd buys shoes from Finch the son Norman who plays his sax for Finch. The hall of the hotel is lined up with men and their sons/ daughters who want to audition and ‘buy shoes’ from Mr. Finch.
At the end of the day Mr. Finch is talking to his supervisor on the phone. Finch has sold 67 pairs of shoes that day- a company record for a single day. He tells his supervisor it is due to his personal magnetism [which in reality he has none of.]
As Finch sets to leave town he seems a different man. He is now full of confidence. The folks who auditioned for him are mobbing him as he gets in his car to leave. Finch who was about to quit as a shoe salesman is now eager to carry on and thanks the people. Then they realize that he is just that- a shoe salesman and as he drives away the men start to argue with one another over whose fault it was for starting this rumor. Andy looks across the street to see a smiling Aunt Bee and knows he’s been had. Bee had proven her point-the men were just as bad at gossiping as the women were.
In the follow up shot at the end- Bee is at the courthouse talking to Andy and asking him if he auditioned- and Barney walks in-with three pairs of shoes that Andy has bought which had just arrived.
In most of the early episodes of season one to this point- Aunt Bee has for the most part played a minor role or was absent from episodes. She is the star of this one. She may have not had a lot of airtime in the episode but she is the center of the action. Very good episode. Andy I note while falling for the back story on Mr. Finch- seems to be dropping the hick accent/ persona that seems to come and go in season 1.
- This is the only episode in which Floyd’s ‘son’ appears. He is mentioned in another episode- but later in the series it is said that he has no children. Again- consistency is not a always found in the history of the characters on this show.
- Barney says New York City is 900 miles from Mayberry- actually where the fictional Mayberry is located would be about 550 miles from Mayberry. But face it for Barney New York City may as well be on the Moon. A trip to Siler City is a big trip for him.
- This colorless salesman without any charisma reminded me of a few sales man I have run into in my life. You wonder how they make a living or survive. I recall back 40 years ago when I was coaching Little League Baseball. The league wanted a fund raiser and this fella from a nearby town who sold candy – Joe The Candy Man- came to our meeting. We ended up dealing with him because he had what we wanted and we didn’t want to waste much time on this anyway- but he was the worst salesman I have ever seen. It was painful sitting through his sales pitch. He was in his early 60’s at the least and was a veteran salesman. How he had success remains a mystery. he was the exact opposite of what you’d expect. Finch reminded me a lot of that man- but Finch did seem to leave Mayberry a new man.
- Fred Walker is back- he is working the drug store today- no sign of Ellie.
- This is the final episode for the mortician/ tv repair man- Orville Monroe.
Andy Griffith- Sheriff Andy Taylor
Don Knotts- Deputy Barney Fife
Frances Bavier- Aunt Bee Taylor
Rony Howard- Opie Taylor
Cheerio Meredith- Emma Brand
Jonathan Hole- Orville Monroe
Howard McNear- Floyd Lawson
Harry Antrim- Fred Walker
Mary Treen- Clara Lindsey
Jak Finch- Wilbur Finch
Phil Chambers- Jason
Unknown Actor- Norman Lawson
Directed by Bob Sweeney
Written by Jack Elinson and Charles Stewart
I agree about the salesman…he was no Bert Miller. I love this episode and how Aunt Bee turned the tables on the men.