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More timely now, perhaps, than when it was first released in 1957, Elia Kazan's overheated political melodrama explores the dangerous manipulative power of pop culture. It exposes the underside of Capra-corn populism, as exemplified in the optimistic fable of grassroots punditryMeet John Doe. In Kazan's account, scripted by Budd Schulberg, the common-man pontificator (Andy Griffith) is no Gary Cooper-style aw-shucks paragon. Promoted to national fame as a folksy TV idol by radio producer Patricia Neal, Griffith's Larry "Lonesome" Rhodes turns out to be a megalomaniacal rat bastard. The film turns apocalyptic as Rhodes exploits his power to sway the masses, helping to elect a reactionary presidential candidate. The parodies of television commercials and opinion polling were cutting edge in their day (Face in the Crowdwas theNetworkof the Eisenhower era), and there are some startling, near-documentary sequences shot on location in Arkansas. An extraordinary supporting cast (led by Walter Matthau and Lee Remick) helps keep the energy level high, even when the satire turns shrill and unpersuasive in the final reel. There's an interesting parallel in Tim Robbins's snide pseudodocumentaryBob Roberts: both these pictures have almost as much contempt for the lemmings in the audience as for the manipulative monsters who herd them over the cliff.--David Chute
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CastAnthony Franciosa, Walter Matthau, Andy Griffith, Lee Remick, Patricia Neal
DVD Release Date:  May 10, 2005
Runtime:  125 minutes
Studio:  Warner Home Video
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review by . February 28, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Andy Griffith goes right to the edge of overacting in this dark character study of an Arkansas hillybilly who overgrows his roots--then blasts all the way through it to some of the most inspired scenery-chewing you'll ever see in a mainstream movie. Lonesome Roads is discovered sleeping off a drunk in a local jail by radio announcer Patricia Neal, where she has brought her "portable" tape recorder to capture local flavor for her "Face in the Crowd" feature show on her daddy's radio station.      …
review by . March 08, 2005
Andy Griffith succeeds in pulling off an act of pure madness in this chronicle of the rise and fall of a superstar.    A Face in the Crowd is a mezmerizing film from start to finish. You get introduced to the character Lonesome Rhodes as he lay passed out in a jail cell. A local radio news reporter, played by Patricia Niel, is scouting for new talent and happens to see this explosive accident waiting to happen sprawled across the floor. She wakes him up and convinces him to sing …
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