A Face in the Crowd (1957)

94EPISODE #25: Lonesome Rhodes, played by Andy Griffith as you have most likely NEVER seen him before, is a drifter and a raconteur. When we—and Patricia Neal—meet him, he’s in jail, but his storytelling and singing land him on her radio show, which is called A Face in the Crowd. The local housewives go crazy over this guy, and we follow his meteoric rise to fame and fortune on the radio and television, and his equally quick descent into troubles with booze, women, and even political corruption. James and Lara are joined by writer, producer, and USC School of Cinematic Arts professor Trey Callaway to discuss A FACE IN THE CROWD (1957). Originally the picture had mixed reviews, but opinions have warmed to it over the years. The film was directed by Elia Kazan, who also did A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE, ON THE WATERFRONT, AND EAST OF EDEN, and predicted that with the advent of television…media, celebrity, commerce and politics would forever be merged. None of us could get over Andy Griffith’s astonishing performance, but be warned: you will most likely never view THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW the same after you hear his maniacal laugh and whistling in this. There are also terrific supporting performances from Patricia Neal, Lee Remick (in her film debut), and Water Matthau, who delivers one of the best lines in A FACE IN THE CROWD: “I’ll say one thing for him, he’s got the courage of his ignorance.”

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