A Face in the Crowd (1957) starring Andy Griffith, Patricia Neal & Walter Matthau

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We became acquainted with a community of strangers – it was not like a work experience, it was a life experience, a thing that affects you very deeply. We became a part of that Arkansas community settling down in new homes there. It was a terrific experience, right from the beginning, the people we met, the insights we got, the privilege we had of being inside a society that otherwise we would never have touched.  -Andy Griffith

Larry Rhodes (Andy Griffith, in his 1st movie role- VERY far from Sheriff Andy and Matlock) is in a small-town Arkansas jail when the niece of a radio station owner, Marcia Jeffries (Patricia Neal- always great in every role), interviews him and has him sing an impromptu song for a weekly radio program.  She even names him “Lonesome, ” much to his surprise and amusement.

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You put your whole self into that laugh, don’t you?  -Marcia asks

Marcia, I put my whole self into everything I do.  -Lonesome replies

Lonesome quickly proves to be quite popular with his homespun humor/song lyrics. He soon has a radio show of his own (in Memphis).  An opportunistic/ambitious office worker, Joey DePalma (Anthony Franciosa) lands Lonesome a contract for a TV show (in NYC) thanks to support of Vitajex, a new dietary supplement.

A Face in the Crowd (1957) Directed by Elia Kazan Shown from left: Patricia Neal, Andy Griffith
A Face in the Crowd (1957)
Directed by Elia Kazan
Shown from left: Patricia Neal, Andy Griffith

I was totally taken by surprise by this edgy, brilliant movie. I was also mesmerized by the beautiful and fabulous Patricia Neal. …she just smoked in this movie.  -IMDB comment

They love his voice, they love his guitar, they love his ideas… they should know some of his ideas.  -Marcia says re: Lonesome

Lonesome becomes SO popular that he gets his own television show.  He brings his “Girl Friday” Marcia w/ him to NYC.  Their working relationship gets complicated, BUT you need to watch it to find out how!

A FACE IN THE CROWD, Andy Griffith, 1957
A FACE IN THE CROWD, Andy Griffith, 1957

The portion of the film where [Lonesome] “reinvented” the marketing message of the pill was like a precursor of current Viagra commercials, particularly the blonde in bed talking about how the pill helped her “boyfriend.”  -IMDB comment

Didn’t you know? All mild men are vicious. They hate themselves for being mild, and they hate the windy extroverts whose violence seems to have a strange attraction for nice girls. You should know better.  -Mel comments re: men like him

Mel Miller (Walter Matthau) is one of the writers who works on this show; he develops feelings for Marcia. In no time, Lonesome attracts the attention of a retired general, who introduces him to an aspiring politician.

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I’m not just an entertainer. I’m an influence, a wielder of opinion, a force… a force!  -Lonesome exclaims re: his power over the masses

A comparison to the fictional Lonesome and the too real Donald Trump can’t be avoided. Art imitating life or is it life imitating art?  -IMDB comment

Did you know Marlon Brando (a frequent collaborator of director Elia Kazan) was considered for the lead role?  One of the hosts at TCM pointed this out after the film ended; it was shown in early October. Brando refused, probably b/c he knew that would’ve been woeful miscasting! 

On Twitter, a viewer noted that the dinner scene in Lonesome’s spacious penthouse was styled like the one in Citizen Kane.  Director Spike Lee noted that A Face in the Crowd film was a BIG inspiration for his film, Bamboozled.   

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