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A Face in the Crowd

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Overview

Andy Griffith makes a spectacular film debut in this searing drama as Lonesome Rhodes, a philosophical country-western singer discovered in a tanktown jail by radio talent scout Patricia Neal and her assistant Walter Matthau. They decide that Rhodes is worthy of a radio spot, but the unforeseen result is that the gangly, aw-shucks entertainer becomes an overnight sensation not simply on radio but, thereafter, on television. As he ascends to stardom, Rhodes attracts fans, sponsors and endorsements by the carload, ...
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Overview

Andy Griffith makes a spectacular film debut in this searing drama as Lonesome Rhodes, a philosophical country-western singer discovered in a tanktown jail by radio talent scout Patricia Neal and her assistant Walter Matthau. They decide that Rhodes is worthy of a radio spot, but the unforeseen result is that the gangly, aw-shucks entertainer becomes an overnight sensation not simply on radio but, thereafter, on television. As he ascends to stardom, Rhodes attracts fans, sponsors and endorsements by the carload, and soon he is the most powerful and influential entertainer on the airwaves. Beloved by his audience, Rhodes reveals himself to his intimates as a scheming, power-hungry manipulator, with Machiavellian political aspirations. He uses everyone around him, coldly discarding anyone who might impede his climb to the top one such victim is sexy baton-twirler Lee Remick, likewise making her film debut. Just when it seems that there's no stopping Rhodes' megalomania, his mentor and ex-lover Neal exposes this Idol of Millions as the rat that he is. She arranges to switch on the audio during the closing credits of Rhodes' TV program, allowing the whole nation to hear the grinning, waving Rhodes characterize them as "suckers" and "stupid idiots." Instantly, Rhodes' popularity rating plummets to zero. As he drunkenly wanders around his penthouse apartment, still not fully comprehending what has happened to him, Rhodes is deserted by the very associates who, hours earlier, were willing to ask "how high?" when he yelled "jump." Written by Budd Schulberg, Face in the Crowd was not a success, possibly because it hit so close to home with idol-worshipping TV fans. Its reputation has grown in the intervening years, not only because of its value as a film but because of the novelty of seeing the traditionally easygoing Andy Griffith as so vicious and manipulative a character as Lonesome Rhodes.
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Special Features

Closed Caption; New documentary Facing the Past; Theatrical trailer; Subtitles: English, Français & Español
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Mark Deming
While it's about as subtle as a stick of dynamite in a keg of nails, A Face in the Crowd was one of the first intelligent attempts to examine the impact of mass media on average citizens. If Budd Schulberg's script plays its hand too heavily by today's standards (it's pretty hard to shock anyone now by telling them television can be used to manipulate the mass audience), it still works, thanks largely to fine work by a superb cast. In his film debut, Andy Griffith gave the greatest performance of his career as "Lonesome" Rhodes, a small-time con artist who discovers that his "aw shucks" homespun act can make him wealthy and powerful as a radio and television star. The near-cancerous growth of Rhodes' ego and unholy lust for power is a fascinating thing to witness, and anyone who knows Griffith only as Andy Taylor from Mayberry will be shocked by the gale-force megalomania of this role; he never again approached the mesmerizing ugliness of this character. Patricia Neal is equally impressive as the bright and ambitious Marcia, swinging from confidence to wounded vulnerability with heart-wrenching effectiveness. And while Walter Matthau has the thankless task of delivering the film's moral in his final speech, you can't say that he didn't know how to make the most of it, as he sums up Lonesome's crimes with lip-smacking cynicism. Add the crisp and adventurous black-and-white camerawork of Harry Stradling and Gayne Rescher, and Elia Kazan's brisk and methodically paced direction, and you get a "message movie" that still feels fresh, even if the message has dated.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 5/10/2005
  • UPC: 085393352622
  • Original Release: 1957
  • Rating:

  • Source: Warner Home Video
  • Region Code: 1
  • Presentation: Wide Screen / Subtitled
  • Time: 2:06:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 24,391

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Andy Griffith Lonesome Rhodes
Patricia Neal Marcia Jeffries
Anthony Franciosa Joey Kiely
Walter Matthau Mel Miller
Lee Remick Betty Lou Fleckum
Kay Medford First Mrs. Rhodes
Rod Brasfield Beanie
Charles Irving Mr. Luffler
Howard I. Smith J.B. Jeffries
Paul McGrath Macey
Alexander Kirkland Jim Collier
Big Jeff Bess Sheriff Hosmer
Henry Sharp Abe Steiner
Faye Emerson Herself
Betty Furness Herself
Virginia Graham Herself
Burl Ives Himself
Marshall Neilan Senator Fuller
Lois Nettleton
John Cameron Swayze Himself
Rip Torn
Mike Wallace Himself
Percy Waram Col. Hollister
Walter Winchell Himself
Charles Nelson Reilly
Technical Credits
Elia Kazan Director, Producer
Tom Glazer Score Composer
Anna Hill Johnstone Costumes/Costume Designer
Charles H. Maguire Asst. Director
Gene Milford Editor
Gayne Rescher Cinematographer
Budd Schulberg Screenwriter
Harry Stradling Cinematographer
Richard Sylbert Production Designer
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Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Credits [1:26]
2. A Face in the Crowd [2:33]
3. Lonesome Rhodes [5:45]
4. One-Day Trial Offer [3:17]
5. Housewives' Heartthrob [3:37]
6. To the Dogs [4:48]
7. Getting the Idea [4:45]
8. TV Debut [4:44]
9. Potent Pitchman [4:08]
10. His Own Man [2:41]
11. In Marcia's Door [2:07]
12. In Vitajex's Door [4:06]
13. Moving Merchandise [7:00]
14. Mass Persuasion [4:56]
15. Don't Hurt Me [4:14]
16. Mrs. Rhodes [3:45]
17. Deeply Involved [4:34]
18. Betty Lou Fleckum [6:21]
19. Another Bride [4:15]
20. Heart Problems [3:40]
21. Marcia's Cut [3:15]
22. Coaching Sen. Fuller [6:49]
23. I'm a Force [1:29]
24. The Book on Lonesome [5:30]
25. In Bed With Joey [2:33]
26. My Flock of Sheep [4:53]
27. The Whole Show [3:15]
28. Grabbing Control [2:30]
29. All the Way Down [1:53]
30. Get Out of Everybody's Life [3:31]
31. Face to Face [3:57]
32. Whatever Happened to Him? [3:17]
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Menu

Side #1 --
   Play Movie
   Scene Selections
   Special Features
      Facing the Past
      Theatrical Trailer
   Languages
      Spoken Languages: English
      Subtitles: English
      Subtitles: Français
      Subtitles: Español
      Subtitles: Off
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 6 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 31, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Television In The Golden Age...And Some Things That Weren't So Golden

    Despite the stultifying conservative atmosphere of the 1950's, the era did produce some great motion pictures. One of the finest of those films deals with television, which at the time was considered a "golden age". Yet, filmmaker Elia Kazan foresaw what could happen if television's power was abused in such a way that entertainment and politics could be blurred, obfuscated and eventually, corrupted. And what's more, it was made long before Paddy Cheyefsky did it so brilliantly in 1976's "Network".

    Kazan made "A Face In The Crowd" in 1957 as a response to television's increasing influence. It starred Andy Griffith, in his movie debut, when he was just a comedian doing routines like "What It Was, Was Football". However, if all you know about Griffith is his television show (which he would do just two years later), you owe to yourself to see him here. He portrays a wandering, womanzing drunkard named Lonesome Rhodes, a total polar opposite of Sheriff Andy Taylor of Mayberry. When we first see Lonesome, he's in a filthy Southern drunk tank and a reporter named Marcia (a fantastic Patricia Neal) records his tales and songs for a local radio station. She is so enamored by his talent that Lonesome lands a job at the station. His popularity explodes and he soon finds his way toward television, first in the South and then, to New York City. When Lonesome arrives in the Gotham, he is soon courted by powerful businessmen who use his program as a way to convince the public to vote for a stuffy politican whose less-government-is-better philosophy echoes loudly in the era of The Tea Party. But Lonesome's personal life is a stark contrast to his squeaky-clean public persona and as Marcia witnesses all this, she must decide whether to allow him to deceive the public or expose him as the monster he truly is.

    Griffith's performance is so unnerving that it's scary. It certainly scared him, too; after this movie, he saw what the character did to him in his personal life and he promised that he would never do a movie like that again. The film also features the debuts of Lee Remick as a gorgeous, bubbelheaded baton-twirling queen and Anthony Francioso as Lonesome's ambitious, sleazoid manager. Probably the best performance in the film is by Walter Matthau, also out of character, portraying a cynical show writer who is probably the only true friend Marcia has. The DVD features a great documentary about the film featuring interviews with Griffith, Neal and Kazan (with Griffith actually saying the F-word at one point). Yet, "A Face In The Crowd" has more than retained its power over the years and sad to say, the correlations between this film and what Fox News does with favored politicans is not purely coincidental.

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Andy Griffith as you've never seen him before, in a masterpiece of the cinematic arts.

    Brilliant performances by the whole cast with Andy Griffith giving a once in a lifetime performance as "Lonesome Rhodes". This movie was way ahead of it's time in the depiction of the influence of media on society. A classic which still retains relevance in today's media focused world.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Fantastic

    Andy Griffith as you never would believe a powerful performance GREAT MOVIE

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    more relevant today than ever before

    It's like Kazan could see the new millenium coming. Not only is the entire cast amazing, the effect of celebrity worship is dramatized perfectly. A must see for any social cynic.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Hard Hitting

    Clearly the best andy griffith has EVER done it makes you look a tv as a powerful forum and can shape,make or break any public figure or anybody!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 18, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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