One Of My Favorite Underrated Movies Is One You May Not Remember
I used to watch a lot of movies back in the day - old and new ones.
And one of my favorites is one you might not even remember - A Face in the Crowd. This movie is amazing. It's definitely not for kids, though. It's got a familiar star, at least to me. My mom grew up watching the Andy Griffith Show, and made us watch it a lot as kids. So when I first saw this movie, I was shocked. My mom refused to watch it. IT's not for anyone who doesn't have an open mind about our beloved Andy Taylor/Matlock. This film is unlike anything he's ever done.
I studied film and broadcasting in school, which means we did a lot of movie watching. I pretty much went through the Blockbuster older section in alphabetical order. Remember when Blockbuster was a thing?
Anyway. I mentioned this one movie that he did, which was noteworthy because it was the only time Andy Griffith played a character that was unscrupulous. It stressed him and his family out so much that he promised to never do a character like that ever again - he would come home with the same evil energy Lonesome had.
The story followed a reporter, Marcia, played by Patricia Neal (you remember her from The Day The Earth Stood Still). She went around to find people to feature on her show "A Face in the Crowd". She goes to a jail down in Arkansas where she encounters our anti-hero, Larry "Lonesome" Rhodes.
He travels with her, and becomes a local sensation on radio. As he gets more popular, he becomes a huge act on national television. As the money rolls in and he gets more and more merchandising, advertisers and power, he becomes more and more corrupt. After all, he was in jail for a reason. His ego is fed but his inner morals are still not there. He leaves the people who tried to help him and finally pushes the wrong person over the edge, losing everything.
Like I said, it's amazing. It's completely relevant for our times, where people will do almost anything to be popular on reality tv. It was almost like a foretelling of what was to come. It was, in 2008 selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". It was directed by Elia Kazan (he did On The Waterfront, A Streetcar Named Desire, and Splendor in the Grass among others) and also stars a younger Walter Matthau. It's a very satisfying story that's well told, and you certainly will never doubt Andy Griffith's acting skills after you see it.
But, like I said.... This isn't Andy Taylor. This isn't a nice character. You will love to hate this character, despise and admire him at the same time.