I Saw That!

One woman's opinions about popular entertainment.

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Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Amateur boxing coach, Christian (but not so heavenly-minded that I'm no earthly good) singer, writer, self-defense advocate, childfree. feminist www.smartwomenboxingtraining.org

Friday, September 17, 2010

A Face In The Crowd (1957)

People who only know Andy Griffith as the down home sheriff on "The Andy Griffith Show" or wily "Matlock" on the show of the same name, will be surprised to learn that Griffith plays underhanded men real well, too.  In this film, Griffith plays a Will Rogers type celebrity named Lonesome Jones.  Jones is a legend in his little Arkansas town, where he runs a popular radio show.  Jones spouts his opinions, and a lot of people listen to him and follow what he says.  Marcia Jeffreys (Patricia Neal) discovers him first, and is drawn to Jones.  His fame grows, and he is asked to come up to Memphis to appear on a TV show. When they get on the train to leave, Jones makes a comment about being glad to get away from the small town folks in Arkansas.  Marcia gives him a look, and Jones maintains that he was just playing.  It's foreshadowing of the problems to come.

Jones' fame grows as he ends up headlining his own TV show.  He gets an manager -- or rather, brash Joey dePalma (Anthony Franciosa) sees a meal ticket and forces his way into Jones' life.  Advertisers clamor to be sponsors on Jones' show, and soon, he's asked to help an uninteresting politician, Senator Fuller (Marshall Neilan) in his campaign to become President of the U.S. by his wealthy backers.  Jones, who already has a big ego, gets further drunk on power.  A few people around him, including Mel Miller (Walter Matthau), see the real guy behind Jones' alleged down-to-earth country boy persona.  Marcia keeps sticking up for Jones, even as he keeps letting her down and breaking her heart.  But sooner or later, something has to give.

A very good film about how fame can corrupt, and how the media can be used by those inside it to manipulate people.  There is a lot of food for thought here.

Patricia Neal, who passed away not long ago, was a great actress, and she's excellent here.  She was the one who was the first originated the role of Olivia Walton in the TV movie "The Homecoming: A Christmas Story" (1971), which served as a pilot for the TV series "The Waltons".  Anthony Franciosa went on to be a cast member on the TV series, "The Name of the Game" (1968-1970).  Lee Remick was also in this movie; she appeared in Experiment In Terror (1962) and The Omen (1976).

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