"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
Before Elia Kazan ever met Andy Griffith, he had heard his comedy monologue records, the most famous being the "What It Was, Was Football" routine, which enjoyed constant airplay on Southern radio stations during the early '50s. 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 »
Listen, I'm not through yet. You know what's gonna to happen to me?
Suppose I tell you exactly what's gonna happen to you. You're gonna be back in television. Only it won't be quite the same as it was before. There'll be a reasonable cooling-off period and then somebody will say: "Why don't we try him again in a inexpensive format. People's memories aren't too long." And you know, in a way, he'll be right. Some of the people will forget, and some of them won't. Oh, you'll have a show. Maybe not...
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This film shows what a fine actor Andy Griffith truly is, and what roles he could have mastered had he not chosen the Mayberry path instead.
Directed by Elia Kazan, the political drama and satire of commercialism "A Face in the Crowd" is the story of Lonesome Rhodes (Griffith), a charismatic guitar-playing drifter who is discovered by radio executive Marcia Jeffries (the husky-voiced Patricia Neal) while in jail on a public drunk charge. He catapults to radio and TV stardom under the guise of being an aw-shucks homeboy who loves his fans. In fact, Lonesome Rhodes is a slimy, greedy, egotistical, manipulative womanizer with underhanded political aspirations and nothing but contempt for his gullible audience. The film was far ahead of its time in its theme and telling, and Andy Griffith gives a blazing performance that rivals Burt Lancaster's in "Elmer Gantry" (for which Lancaster won an Oscar). That this film wasn't even nominated for any awards is very surprising.
I also am saddened that it's never been released on DVD; it's one of the best of its kind I have ever seen, and was certainly Griffith's plum role and best performance. With a stellar supporting cast, including Patricia Neal, Walter Matthau, Tony Franciosa and a beautiful Lee Remick in her first film role, "A Face in the Crowd" is a must-see film, and should eradicate any opinion you may have that Griffith was only capable of his wholesome TV roles of Sheriff Taylor and Ben Matlock.
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