"A Face in the Crowd" charts the rise of a raucous hayseed named Lonesome Rhodes from itinerant Ozark guitar picker to local media rabble-rouser to TV superstar and political king-maker. Marcia Jeffries is the innocent Sarah Lawrence girl who discovers the great man in a back-country jail and is the first to fall under his spell. Written by
Two cast members had genuine ties to the country music field. Rod Brasfield was a popular Grand Ole Opry comedian in the 1950s, known for his own performances and onstage comic banter with legendary Opry comic Minnie Pearl. Big Jeff Bess, who portrayed the Sheriff, was a Nashville-based country music performer on radio station WLAC there, leading a group called "Big Jeff and His Radio Playboys", which recorded for Dot Records and included guitarist Grady Martin. Bess was, for a time, the husband of Tootsie Bess, longtime owner of Nashville's famous downtown bar Tootsie's Orchid Lounge, a hangout for country entertainers. See more »
When the Sheriff escorts Marcia into the jail holding cell, he welcomes her to the "Tomahawk County Jail". However, in the exterior shot just prior the cornerstone of the building plainly reads "Clay Co." That's because the exterior was shot at the Clay County Courthouse in Piggott, Arkansas. There is no Tomahawk County in Arkansas. See more »
This whole country's just like my flock of sheep!
Rednecks, crackers, hillbillies, hausfraus, shut-ins, pea-pickers - everybody that's got to jump when somebody else blows the whistle. They don't know it yet, but they're all gonna be 'Fighters for Fuller'. They're mine! I own 'em! They think like I do. Only they're even more stupid than I am, so I gotta think for 'em. Marcia, you just wait and see. I'm gonna be the power behind the president - and you'll be the power behind me!
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I just saw this movie very late the other night, and I must say WOW! Like the rest of you, I saw "A Face In the Crowd" on a regular VHS edition, but it wouldn't matter which edition I saw it in because this was one of the few movies recently that made the jaw of this movie snob literally DROP with amazement over how daring, how edgy, and how much mastery this movie had over the film-making craft.
I'm beginning to realize that in the 1950's there was a short period of time (1955-1960, say) where the world of Broadway and the theater, Television, and Hollywood came together, and the careers of people like Rod Serling, Sidney Lumet, and "A Face In the Crowd"'s own Budd Schulberg were started. The best screenwriters in the movie business became innately aware of the increasing importance and influence of the new media form Television, while the best directors (like Elia Kazan), many of whom had directed numerous plays, knew how to cull the talents of Broadways hottest and most gifted performers, and at least for a couple of years, managed to get some awesome performances out of them. That's why I view this movie in the same sort of category as "The Sweet Smell of Success", that ever so sour and bitingly satiric parable on the corruption of American glamour and fame, and how publicity is just as much of a curse as a blessing. The performances in that film are like few others in the same era, and I think its no coincidence that "A Face In the Crowd" came out the same year as the other film. The main scribes of both those films, Clifford Odets and Budd Schulberg, were experienced with TV work by the time they penned their masterpieces (though Schulberg could also claim as his masterpiece 'On the Waterfront').
So anyway, I suggest to all who can hear me and have a love enough for this film to want to see it given the presentation it deserves, that we all write to the Criterion Collection and other DVD distributing companies and ask, no DEMAND that a restored, cleaned up version of "A Face In the Crowd", with as many special features as can be rustled up, be released as soon as possible. It's like writing your congressman, except instead of asking for a new factory of national park, we're asking for the wider availability of a piece of art that has gone with far too little acclaim for far too long. Who's with me?!?
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