A Face in the Crowd - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

A Face in the Crowd Reviews

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½ November 11, 2016
Marcia Jeffries (Patricia Neal), a radio reporter, goes to a small-town prison to try to find hidden talent for her show, "A Face in the Crowd". There she meets Larry "Lonesome" Rhodes (Andy Griffith), a man in jail who agrees to sing some music for the station in exchange for his early release. When he becomes a success, Marcia and the station want him to keep performing, which lets Lonesome quickly gain fame and power not just through his musical talents, but also through his impressive speeches and talks. This movie chronicles what he does with his rise to fame and how those actions affect those around him.

This is a movie that I had not heard of before when I decided to watch it. I saw it was directed by Elia Kazan, the man behind "On the Waterfront", one of my all-time favorite films, as well as "Gentleman's Agreement". So I could at least hope that the movie would be well-directed, well-acted, and kind of interesting.

What might be your first reaction to a movie about rise to fame? Will it end happily or tragically? Is it just a typical story of the pitfalls or perks of being a celebrity? Does this look familiar from another movie, or even in real life? I'd be surprised if this kind of story does not sound even slightly familiar, because it turns out to occur in the real world to so many people. There are some who use their popularity to entertain people in many different ways, and there are those who try to help people change their lives for the better. Sadly, there are people who can get so wrapped up in their fame that they get involved in dangerous things, such as drugs, or grow haughty, manipulative, and selfish, that they end up negatively affecting their lives and those of their close ones. This movie seems to be all the more relevant in today's society.

If a movie is going to have a very familiar story, though, it needs something added to it to separate it from other films of its kind. In "A Face in the Crowd", my favorite parts were Griffith's acting and the story. Most of the cast members do well in their parts. I think Walter Matthau could have used more screen time as Mel, but at least he has arguably the best phrase in the movie: "Demagogue in Jeans". Patricia Neal does a very good job playing Marcia. She portrays different emotions well enough to make people feel sympathy for her, especially with her relation with Lonesome. And speaking of Lonesome, Andy Griffith was downright incredible as the singer/motivator! I could totally believe that his character can exist because of his wide range of emotions and expressions from being likable and talented to selfishly manipulative. It's quite interesting that a film from the 1950's features a celebrity with his own talent show as the sole judge, one of different factors contributing to his ego. It reminds me of someone running for president this year... (Please note, I'm not taking sides here; I'm just bringing this up because I immediately related him to this candidate when I saw the film in January).

The story is thoroughly engaging. Save for a few slow scenes, I was quite invested in Lonesome's journey and the effects of his life choices and ego as a celebrity. I won't talk too much about what it all leads to (because, spoilers), but suffice it to say that as the movie approached its end, it grew more intense, and the aftereffects are powerful.

"A Face in the Crowd" is a very well-acted drama featuring a timeless story that does not seem to fade away in our society any time soon. I look forward to watch this movie again, and really hope that eventually more people will see this.
9/10
½ August 31, 2016
Funny and smart, this Elia Kazan film is a distorted portrait of television that beautifully works.
July 14, 2016
Walter Matthau's role is thankless but Griffith's performance is classic, and the Vitajex scene is some of the best satire from the era.
March 5, 2016
shd be free on youtube. saw preview. Some critic sd it like predicted Trump. Elia Kazan later despised by libs.
January 18, 2016
Sometimes these older movies surprise and this one is certainly impressive.
May 1, 2015
It's timelessness, relevance is because of it's viciousness that any man is capable of. Rise and falls, full-benders have always made for good cinema, especially in the hands of the Elia Kazan, who was no stranger to it himself.
March 21, 2015
Let me focus on the Lee Remick scene. Ilia Kazan, who came from another country, was probably disappointed at the small minded culture that this scene presented, and he was right. As a result, on the Ed Sullivan Show, eventually, that baton never did get twirled. Next, the performance by Patricia Neal. Her later role in Hud, may have been nice, but could it be that there were some who were so cowered by the reality of Marcia Jeffries, that they then sought to obscure this reality by greatly over-magnifying Hud. Last, but not least, I have just now viewed this motion picture. and for me, Andy Griffith as Lonesome Rhodes has just nudged the role of Boris Lermontov by Anton Walbrook from the top position of all time.
March 4, 2015
Watched in Marketing class at the collegiate level. Loved the contrast of Andy Griffith's character to the character he made famous on The Andy Griffith show I grew up watching. Excellent movie.
January 25, 2015
Scary prescient! Must see.
January 19, 2015
still holds up quite well today
½ January 11, 2015
Great movie flawed by the ending. What it talks about is still very much relevant today.
½ December 18, 2014
Amazing, powerful, bold, and many other superlatives. Andy Griffith...wow. Such a great and iconic performance. Reminds me for some reason of The Night of the Hunter. Great script, direction, and editing. One super small complaint is Neal's character is underdeveloped and I never got a feel for what her job was as the various radio stations, could have used a minute or two of her going about her job to better set up the scene where she turns back on Lonesome's mic. One of classics I've missed or overlooked - this is what I'm looking for with every movie I see.
July 12, 2014
Now right here, we have Elia Kazan giving us a masterpiece that most definitely won't be forgotten for what it is.
April 15, 2014
Dam good story about a drunken drifter who lands himself in the limelight as a singer until his inevitable decline begins because of his big ego. Powerful
½ February 9, 2014
Watched this based on a recommendation and loved it.
October 18, 2013
Wow and Uff Da!! There's nothing I can add to the other comments except; watch this film - twice in one year! It's both that good and disturbing. Griffith so disliked his character, and the personal eccentricities he began to pick up from Rhodes, that he swore to never play a mean character again. If you want to see acting chops (by the whole cast!), this film has it in spades.
½ October 13, 2013
Even now I learn so much from those first ten years of the Simpsons! And now I know the basis for the Gabbo episode was this film. This is a total masterpiece that I would have otherwise overlooked had it not been for a few suggestions. Andy Griffith turns in the acting job of his career. It's rather incredible to see his inevitible deterioration into self-consumption. Patricia Neal's character evokes much empathy as a sort of Dr. Frankenstein who had no idea that her creation would become a monster.
½ August 9, 2013
The lead performance by Andy Griffith as the wanton, loose-tongued wanderer full of egoistic flare, is one of the most energetic and astounding performances ever recorded on film. Not what I expected from the main actor of the Andy Griffith show. And Patricia Neal was equally as good as the angelic Marcia. The mastery of the film all falls under Elia Kazan's typically loving direction.
July 21, 2013
Elia Kazan directs this brilliant satire of celebrity that has become even more relevant now than it did when Kazan released it in 1957. Lonesome Rhodes (Andy Griffith in his film debut) is a drunk degenerate who is locked up in a small town jail in Arkansas. He has no job and no prospects; that is until a local radio station reporter named Marcia Jeffries (Patricia Neal) ends up at the jail to film a segment. Her piece, A Face in the Crowd, talks to average people and tries to capture a slice of American life. When Rhodes suddenly breaks out singing on the show, the radio station decides to find him and offer him a show. What follows is the supernova ascension and inevitable crash of Lonesome Rhodes' celebrity and political power. Griffith gives a tour de force performance and Kazan is able to twist the folksy persona Griffith, which he would use on his own show later on, to create a monster of hype and power. The idea that celebrities and politicians are not very far off from each other and that there is a fine line between the love that celebrities have and dangerous power in the wrong hands is even more of an issue in our society today. This film was clearly ahead of its time and brilliantly predicted the future where an actor like Ronald Reagan could actually become president.
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