For Reel

A Face in the Crowd (1957)
April 3, 2011, 2:28 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Elia Kazan

Fifty four years since its release, Elia Kazan’s A Face in the Crowd has not only remained relevant, but it is becoming increasingly apparent that Schulberg and Kazan had successfully predicted much of what television would do to the American political consciousness. Characters like Glenn Beck (whom Keith Olbermann dubbed “Lonesome Rhodes Beck”) continue to exemplify the interaction between propagandistic media and politics. Kazan, always known as an actor’s director, brought tremendous performances out of the bitter Walter Matthau, the allegiant Patricia Neal, and most memorably, an astonishing turn by comedian Andy Griffith, who delivers one of the screen’s most enduring characters. While much has been said about Griffith (and deservedly so), Neal serves as a surrogate for the audience, whose loyalty to Rhodes is constantly challenged by Matthau, the closest thing there is to a moral compass in the film. Despite the want to demonize Lonesome Rhodes, Kazan never settled for distinguishing the good guys from the bad guys, and for that reason many of his characters have continued to leave lasting impressions.

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