RE: Re- RARA-AVIS: Top 100 Hard-Boiled Characters

From: Anthony Dauer (
Date: 24 Mar 2002

The show's misleading. Mayberry is so quiet it may be hard to see, but if you put Sheriff Taylor onto the mean streets he'd be as hardboiled as the classic PI. Taylor is adjusts to the environment and puts on the face his surroundings require. He has a personal ethic that goes beyond the law to the more universal concept of justice that Sam Spade, Lew Archer, Phillip Marlowe, Mike Hammer, and the rest of the hardboiled hero lot obey. The criminal element in Mayberry is the same as any of those heroes faced including a femme fatale shacked up with a crime family running an illegal distillation business. Andy deals with the corruption of the mayor and other politicians as well as the occasional grifter to pass his way. If you think his on going relationship ends with a peck on the cheek after a double feature and a slice of pie at the diner on Saturday night or a shared pew Sunday morning, you'd be wrong. All of them old shows only hinted at what was really going on, what was just below the surface simmering away in the southern heat.

Oh yeah and that psycho-fuck Deputy Barney Fife ... Lou Ford's east coast kissin' cousin. His Costello routine his own unique version of Ford's personality quirk. It's not hard to picture him sneaking off across the country line while off duty to harvest a neighboring town's beauty queen, one after another, year after year, to pay the little sweet things back for the cruelty of a local one that incessantly teased and belittled him while he was a gangly teenager growing up in Mayberry.

But Fife's most important role is a symbol ... he represents the general incompetence and ineptitude of the police in a hardboiled tale. Bumbling about in all it's officialdom: uniform, gun, and hat. While Andy plays the opposite. Lone wolf, mixing it up with the locals to keep tabs on what's going on in his jurisdiction and dealing out justice as he sees fit with who he chooses to arrest and who he lets go. Maintaining the peace and thwarting the politicos power grabs all while keeping the townies in their place.

Anthony Dauer
Alexandria, Virginia

2nd Annual Country Noir Issue ...
... submit by 4 May 2002
-----Original Message----- From: John Lau
> I would however, like to see Dauer further prop up > Sheriff Andy Taylor. and while he's at it, maybe he > can even nominate his psycho sidekick, Deputy Fife.

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