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 into her recorder for the program she hosts. He whips out his old guitar (the love of his life) tries to sober a little, then makes up an ol' tune on the spot. Thus begins the immediate success of Lonesome Rhodes. Unfortunately, when the big mouth antics of this loose cannon give away the true intentions of his heart, an incredible twist formulates and the world comes crashing down.
A face in the crowd is loosely based on a personality during the fifties known as the "IL Redhead" Author Godfrey. He was one of the biggest country sensation in 57, or the decade for that matter.
From beginning to end A Face in the Crowd is a 2 hour 5 minute journey that I couldn't shake. It should be considered for AFI's top one hundred list simply because it broke a mold unlike anyone had seen at that time. This should be required viewing for film buffs and lovers of great performances. ~SAOS~
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. … more
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