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I think by reading this blog, you can easily figure out that I love movies and especially love excellent ones.
I ran into another last night on Turner Classic Movies. I hadn’t seen it in a while and I had forgotten how damn good it really is and it’s now on my list of four-star movies.
It’s “A Face in the Crowd” from 1957 starring Andy Griffith, Patricia Neal, Walter Matthau and Lee Remick. It’s directed by Elia Kazan, who brought us such film classics as “A Street Car Named Desire” and “On The Waterfront.” The screenplay is by Budd Schubert, based on his short story.
Neal plays Marcia Jeffries, a producer that discovers Larry Rhodes (Griffith) in an Arkansas jail. She gets to know Rhodes and likes his folksy personal charm along with his sense of humor and singing ability.
She gets him a radio program at an Arkansas radio station and he’s a quick hit. He then gets his own television show in Memphis and then goes big time in New York City.
Audiences can’t get enough of Rhodes, who takes the stage name Lonsome Rhodes, and his country ways and tell it like it is attitude. But then Rhodes starts believing his own publicity and thinks he is larger than life. Jeffries is horrified at the media monster she created. Rhodes heads for a downfall.
If I label a movie a four-star one, it’s because the acting performances are all top-notch and the actors are not leaving anything on the table and other elements of a film are working in sync. This is completely true of “A Face in the Crowd.”
It’s hard to believe the film received no Oscar nominations. It was not well-received when it came out, but critics have been kinder to it as time has gone on. Perhaps, because it did not give a good reflection of how television is made or the audience that is influenced by it. It’s similar to how a mirror was held up to the film industry in “Sunset Boulevard” in 1950.
Griffith was wonderful in the TV classic “The Andy Griffith Show” and later “Matlock.” But if you didn’t think he had acting chops, watch this movie.
“A Face in the Crowd” I feel remains timeless with the influence of cable television news and talk shows today.
TCM will show it again Nov. 4 at 11:15 p.m. CST.