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.
check, bing, crosby, harry, barris, al, rinker, duke, ellington
Amos and Andy also meet Duke Ellington and his Orchestra in Check and Double Check, when they are hired to transport the band to a society ball. The combination seemed a logical fit - Amos and Andy's fictional cabdrivers worked in Harlem and Duke Ellington performed nightly in Harlem's Cotton Club. Check and Double Check marked Duke Ellington's Hollywood feature debut and it introduced him to a broader audience.
Upon the orchestra's arrival in Hollywood, Check and Double Check director Melville Brown deemed two members of Ellington's band too light skinned. Looking for what he called a uniform appearance for the movie, Brown had band members Juan Tizol, who was Puerto Rican, and Barney Bigard, a Creole, wear makeup to appear darker on film. The newspaper The Baltimore Afro-American ran a photo of the band with the caption, "They Must Black Up for Part in the Movies."
Another Ellington band member, drummer Sonny Greer, was to perform the Bert Kalmar/Harry Ruby song "Three Little Words" in the movie - but the idea of singing on film gave him stage fright. As Greer remembers it, "they tried a few takes, but I just couldn't seem to get the words to come out right. Finally I told Duke the whole damn thing was making me nervous." The script was rewritten to have the remaining orchestra members mouth the words. The vocals would be provided by The Rhythm Boys - also known as Bing Crosby, Harry Barris and Al Rinker. In a humorous bit of irony, the original idea (after Greer dropped out) was to have Bing Crosby record the track solo. Apparently the director heard Crosby's take, said, "this guy can't sing" and called in the whole trio.