A Face in the Crowd (1957)

"THERE'S NOTHING AS TRUSTWORTHY
AS THE ORDINARY MIND - OF THE ORDINARY MAN"
~ Lonesome Rhodes

The collection of truly amazing classic films, that I have yet to see, is an ever-shrinking pool. And it just got smaller when I watched Budd Schulberg and Elia Kazan's film A Face in the Crowd (1957). I was captivated both by the film's over-arching message of the corruptiveness of power as well as its fantastic storytelling. This film is so well done that I feel it merits, not one but two entries, with this being the first.

The story is about Larry "Lonesome" Rhodes, a simple Arkansas country boy, whose charm catapults him from jail to radio to broadcast television. He becomes intoxicated by the power his growing audience gives him and this of course leads to his downfall. Its fascinating to see how dangerous it can be and how vulnerable we are when power is put into the wrong hands.

The film itself is exquisitely made. The pacing shifts as the story moves along. My favorite example of this is the Vitajex scene which starts slowly with the formation of the advertising plan and escalates when Lonesome Rhodes takes over. The following scenes are manic flashes of Rhodes' numerous Vitajex commercials. The flashes become faster and faster as the ratings of Rhodes' show rises as well as the sales of Vitajex.

Its also interesting how the two main characters are filmed. Andy Griffith ,as Lonesome Rhodes, is practically bursting out of the screen. Whereas Patricia Neal, as Marcia, is swathed in light in those early scenes when things are still innocent and pure and towards the end when things start to go downhill, she is drowned in shadows, with the exception of her face, which is framed in various ways by clever lighting.

This film encapsulates the film-debuts of Andy Griffith and Lee Remick and the pinnacle Walter Matthau and Anthony Franciosa's early careers. Walter Matthau is particularly exceptional as Marcia's love interest who is the single voice of reason because he sees through the fogs of illusion. And Lee Remick! I had been actively watching for her and was excited to see her as the 17-year old baton-twirling, cheerleader who seduces Lonesome Rhodes.

There are so many reasons to watch this film. Watch it for its political message of the abuse of power. Watch it to see several legends get their film start. Watch it to see cameos by Rip Torn, Mike Wallace and Bennett Cerf (I haven't found him yet!).Watch it for Elia Kazan's excellent direction. But most of all, watch it for Budd Schulberg's amazing story.


I Shall Return!

I'm taking a short hiatus to be able to concentrate on some major school projects. Do not fret. I shall be back very soon and I do have things to talk about. I'm excited to do a little research on Student Prince in Old Heidelberg (1927) as soon as I'm on a break (and as soon as I've finished watching it), I'll do a post on it.

Hasta luego!

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails