The Andy Griffith Show was first and foremost a comedy but every now and then they slip in an episode that's both poignant and meaningful not to mention very well written. What makes Opie's Hobo Friend a standout is both the timeless performance by Buddy Ebsen (known to most of the world for his role as Hillbilly patriarch Jed Clampett in The Bevery Hillbilllies) and the outstanding writing. The episode centers around Opie's relationship with David Browne, a seemingly sterotypical drifter still quite common in the 1960's. Browne's "fluid" view of the world is in sharp contrast with Andy's absolute morality and yet Browne is not portrayed as a bad guy but rather someone who, as he says eloquently, chooses a life most men only dream of. Browne's solution to Andy's delimma with Opie is the kind of stuff that you might see in movies and it's so well acted by both Ebsen and Griffith it really is unforgettable. Round out the episode with a great performance from a young Ron Howard and this really does stand out as one of the best episodes of the series.
This is one of the strongest, most powerful episodes in the series. In its quiet and delicate way the issue of morality and right and wrong is addressed in such a profound way that I was left haunted by the character of the hobo. The acting of Buddy Ebsen is so superb that all the actors are lifted up a notch or two in there portrayals (and that is saying a great deal as the acting in this show is almost always so professional). A not-to-be missed episode.
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