Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|A Face in the Crowd|
Actors: Andy Griffith, Patricia Neal, Anthony Franciosa, Walter Matthau, Lee Remick
No Description Available. Genre: Feature Film-Drama Rating: NR Release Date: 10-MAY-2005 Media Type: DVD
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Ugly and amazing
Lori L. Graham | Whittier, CA USA | 07/20/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When this was recently shown on cable, the host said that Andy Griffith threw himself so totally into the role that the nastiness impacted his personal life; when filming was completed, he purportedly told his family that he would never do a role like it again.He never did. He went on to endear himself to millions on The Andy Griffith Show and Matlock-- the folksy but wise nice guy. While I was watching A Face In The Crowd for the first time (it took me until age 40 before I discovered this film), I felt numbed, my emotions felt...BLASTED. I told my husband that I didn't think I could ever watch Matlock again-- how could this towering terror have "sold out" by playing the nice guy the rest of his life? How DARE he deprive his audience of the power he so obviously was able to bring to the screen? I was perplexed, even angry-- what happened?Now that I've heard the story of why his career took the path it did, I can watch his other work, smile, and appreciate it all the more. Because it's OK; they caught lightning in a bottle with this one. Most actors go their entire lives without leaving this kind of legacy.I'd never seen Patricia Neal play her emotions this raw, either. The HOWL she lets out when she throws herself across the console to keep Rhodes on the air...Kazan had a way of really wringing his actors. I won't go into any synopsis or further analysis; other reviewers have done just fine on that count. However, I am dumbfounded that this film is NOT on DVD, was NOT nominated for a single Academy Award; while I suppose the latter can be explained away by the politics of the times, it doesn't explain why Wiley and Bona's otherwise exhaustive tome "Inside Oscar" doesn't even MENTION the film as having made an impact. We were paranoid, yes, and we were cautious then (what goes around,comes around,huh?), but were audiences and critics also deaf, dumb, and blind? I intend to do further research on that note; this film is not likely to leave my psyche soon."
The Dark Side of Mayberry
Jeffrey Ellis | Richardson, Texas United States | 12/05/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A Face in the Crowd, director Elia Kazan's criminally underrated 1956 political melodrama, tells the all-too plausible story of Lonsome Rhodes. Discovered by a local reporter (Patricia Neal) while spending time in a jail cell for vagrancy, Rhodes (Andy Griffith) is a drifter whose folsky charisma quickly makes him an instant celebrity. Soon, Rhodes has taken Neal as his lover and has his own television show where he gives out his home-spun opinions to a charmed nation. However, Rhodes is hardly the benevelolent country bumpkin that he presents himself to be. Instead, he is a power hungry meglomaniac who uses his fame to promote a fascist political organization. Much as he seduces a niave nation, he seduces a teenage cheerleader (Lee Remick) into being his bride. By the time that Neal and cynical television writer Walter Matthau come to realize the monster they've helped unleash on the world, it may indeed be too late.If this film was too easily dismissed when released, it has become all the more plausible and relavent in recent years. Certainly, the current popularity of talk radio can be seen as a fulfilment of the film's prophecy. However, a more disturbing parallel can be made between Rhodes and the recent emergence of several political leaders whose popularity has been based less on their abilities and more on the "straight-talking" personalities that they skillfully display to a public disillusioned with "politics-as-usual." (Ross Perot and Jesse Ventura being just two of the more obvious examples.)Best known for working with certifiably great actors like Marlon Brando and James Dean, Elia Kazan assembled a cast for A Face in the Crowd that may appear unlikely at first. Who could ever imagine a dark political drama starring Walter Matthau and Andy Griffith -- two seemingly polar opposites best known for their comedic efforts? However, it is a risk that plays off beautifully. Matthau's urban glumness stands in perfect contrast to Griffith's country-corn routine and both are such relaxing presences that even the most sophisticated of viewers will find it hard not to be drawn into a false sense of security that makes the film's ultimate revelations all the more disturbing.A Face in the Crowd was Andy Griffith's first film and he gives an amazing performance that will surprise anyone who knows Griffith only as the sheriff of Mayberry. While still displaying his own unique charisma, Griffith also doesn't shy away from revealing -- subtly but surely -- that Lonesome Rhodes is a truly evil man. What's now forgotten is that even as Sherif Andy Taylor, Griffith's performance had a certain edge. If the people surrounding him were funny, Taylor was always a no-nonsense authoritarian who luckily had a good sense of humor. In his performance as Rhodes, Griffith gives us a portrait of Andy Taylor without the sense of humor or the grounding-influence of family. Its an amazing, all-too realistic performance that makes one wonder what Griffith could have accomplished if he'd continued to explore that edge.Though Griffith dominates the film, the supporting cast is also strong. Along with the aforementioned Matthau, Patricia Neal gives a strong performance and brings both a subtle class snobbery and a repressed sensuality to her role. Her scenes later in the film, when she is forced to confront what she has set loose on the world, are devastating. Though her role is tiny, Lee Remick is both sexy and sympathetic as Griffith's child bride. Interestingly, Kazan doesn't present her character as a total innocent. Perhaps much like the film's America, if Remick is seduced and abused Rhodes, it is a seduction and degregation that she, at least partially, seems to desire.After naming names during the red scare, Kazan often seemed to be drifting. Shunned by Hollywood, Kazan's films soon became obsessed with justifying his own actions. His last two great films -- On the Waterfront and a Face in the Crowd -- both deal with the McCarthyism of the 1950s. If Waterfront was Kazan's justification for informing, A Face in the Crowd is Kazan's attack on the men who perpatrated the Red Scare. Rhodes becomes Kazan's horrific imagining of Joseph McCarthy. It as if after justifying his own choice to name names, Kazan now wanted to make sure it was understood that he was still opposed to the excesses of the times. All-in-all, its a self-centered way to view the power of cinema. However, personal motivations aside, Kazan's need to justify himself produced at least two great films. On the Waterfront is an acknowledged classic. A Face in the Crowd deserves to be."
Beware of trolls in Media Land!
Judy K. Polhemus | LA | 04/29/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Once upon a time, oh, about 1957, in the far-off northeastern corner of Arkansas lived a princess, Marcia Jeffries, who has a radio show. She calls it "A Face in the Crowd" because she believes she can coax "talent" from anyone.
One day she goes to the county jail for that face which, it turns out, belongs to Larry Rhodes. He speaks right up and says, "What's in it for me?," a phrase that becomes his magic words. She gives him the luminous name Lonesome Rhodes and puts him on her morning show where he becomes an immediate local hit. Here on radio he proves he can get people to do outrageous things just by asking. Lonesome has the stuff, star quality, and becomes a radio personality. No need of wands for Lonesome--he has his own magic: the raw vitality of animal magnetism even sight unseen.
Before long Marcia and Lonesome go to Memphis for his own television show.
On their way there, she learns he is really a warty toad inside that Prince Charming disguise, but as a princess is wont to do, she ignores it. In Memphis Lonesome is growing in influence and growing to fit inside that influence. He brings a black woman off the streets and asks the television audience to help raise money to rebuild her burned down house. More than enough money is raised. It's a magic kingdom, television is, with all kinds of far-reaching influence.
Lonesome proves he can sell anything his way-- by belittling the product or boosting the product. He becomes a "wielder of opinion, a man of influence, a strong hand of the elite to guide the masses," and is backed by a maker of presidents. At this point the toad has shed that skin to become a troll.
Meanwhile, what has happened to Princess Marcia? Who is the real knight who comes to the rescue? And what happens to that troll?
"A Face in the Crowd" is one of the most overlooked films about media manipulation, misuse and abuse of the power of mass appeal by a television personality, a dark look at behind-the-scenes television. What could have been a magic kingdom is twisted by the corruption of power into desolation.
The acting is mesmerizing, with kudos going to Andy Griffith as Lonesome Rhodes and Patricia Neal as Marcia. New actor Walter Matthau excels as the intellectual writer behind the scenes, and Lee Remick as Everywoman in love with Lonesome Rhodes. Elia Kazan directs. The film should have been an Academy Award nominee, if not winner.
"A Face in the Crowd" is a must-see film and is as relevant today as the day it opened.
Elia Kazan's Neglected Masterpiece - Finally On DVD
Edward Garea | Branchville, New Jersey United States | 03/15/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Ask most film fanatics to name their favorite Elia Kazan film and you will likely get "On the Waterfront" as your answer. But if you were to ask me, my answer is "A Face in the Crowd." Were it not for the fact that Kazan was "blacklisted" by the Hollywood liberal elite for his supposed testimony (in which he named only those who were already named by others), this film might have swept the Academy Awards. As it was the film was virtually ignored -- Andy Griffith, who gave the performance of a lifetime, was not even nominated for Best Actor, and his performance h0olds up to this day.
As to this classic making its debut on DVD, all I can say is It's About Time.
The film also marked the debuts of three talented actors that left their marks on film and television: Tony Franciosa, Walter Matthau, and Lee Remick.
But what makes this movie so great to watch again and again is that its subject matter never goes out of date, based as it is on the power of television to manipulate and control the minds of viewers. Griffith stars as Larry Rhodes, a drifter awoken one morning in the local jail by Patricia Neal, who is looking for subjects for her morning radio show, "A Face in the Crowd." Assured by the sheriff that he'll be released if he performs, Rhodes grabs his guitar and puts on a show that lands him a regular job on Neal's radio show. Now known as "Lonesome" Rhodes, his combination of homespun philosopher-entertainer quickly takes him from Arkansas to Memphis, where he meets Joey DePalma (Tony Franciosa), an aspiring agent who lands him a network deal in New York. Walter Matthau goes along as the head writer who stays on for the pay despite being mocked by Rhodes. Neal also comes with her protégé, for not only is she his manager, she is also his lover. (The movie's sub-text deals with the love Neal has for the Frankenstein monster she created, despite what he does to her time after time.) Her reaction when she finds out at the airport that her intended Lonesome has married a cheerleader (Remick) is one of the finest pieces of acting in the history of film.
Brought to New York to pitch a worthless product call Vitajex on a variety show, Rhodes makes both the product and himself the biggest things since sliced bread. There is a hilarious sequence of a bout three minutes during this scene of how Madison Avenue can manipulate the public into believing a worthless product is actually good for you. People I've shown this to sit there with mouths agape, dazzled by sophistication rarely encountered in the movies.
Rhodes now comes to the attention of the product's sponsor, who convinces him that not only is Rhodes an opinion maker, but that his untapped power should be used to make a Senate nonentity named J. Worthington Fuller into a viable presidential candidate. Rhodes takes the challenge, renaming the Senator "Curly" Fuller and featuring him on his new show, "Lonesome Rhodes' Cracker Barrel," a sort of down home "McLaughlin Group." By this time, Rhodes's megalomania is completely out of control; his price for Fuller is a cabinet post as Secretary for National Morale. And he almost gets away with it, until Neal pulls the plug in a most unique manner.
It is left to Walter Matthau to deliver the epilogue: we have not seen the last of Lonesome Rhodes. He'll be back, with others just like him; a chilling prediction only too well borne out by subsequent events.
It's a shame this classic hasn't received more attention than it has. The message is timeless, the acting and direction flawless. There has been talk of a remake, but let's hope this doesn't come to fruition. It's perfect as is.