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A Face in the Crowd

237 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Face in the Crowd, A (DVD)

When philosophical country/western singer Larry "Lonesome" Rhodes is "discovered" in the local lock-up by television talent coordinator Marcia Jeffries, she decided that Rhodes deserves a guest appearance on a TV variety show. The gangly, overly humble Rhodes is an instant sensation, and as he quickly ascends toward superstardom he attracts fans, sponsors and endorsement deals until he is the most powerful and influential entertainer on the airwaves. Beloved by his public audience, they would never believe that he has turned into a scheming, power-hungry manipulator with Machiavellian political aspirations. What Rhodes does not realize is that the higher the rise, the farther the fall; not only does he wind up losing his fame and fortune, but he also loses those who cared about him before his ego took control of his life.

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Special Features

  • New documentary: Facing the Past - An all new retrospective with new interviews with stars Andy Griffith, Patricia Neal and screenwriter Budd Schulberg
  • Theatrical trailer

Product Details

  • Actors: Andy Griffith, Patricia Neal, Anthony Franciosa, Walter Matthau, Lee Remick
  • Directors: Elia Kazan
  • Writers: Budd Schulberg
  • Producers: Elia Kazan
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Black & White, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: May 10, 2005
  • Run Time: 125 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (237 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0007TKNHO
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #35,282 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "A Face in the Crowd" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

203 of 209 people found the following review helpful By Lori L. Graham on July 20, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
When this was recently shown on cable, the host said that Andy Griffith threw himself so totally into the role that the nastiness impacted his personal life; when filming was completed, he purportedly told his family that he would never do a role like it again.
He never did. He went on to endear himself to millions on The Andy Griffith Show and Matlock-- the folksy but wise nice guy. While I was watching A Face In The Crowd for the first time (it took me until age 40 before I discovered this film), I felt numbed, my emotions felt...BLASTED. I told my husband that I didn't think I could ever watch Matlock again-- how could this towering terror have "sold out" by playing the nice guy the rest of his life? How DARE he deprive his audience of the power he so obviously was able to bring to the screen? I was perplexed, even angry-- what happened?
Now that I've heard the story of why his career took the path it did, I can watch his other work, smile, and appreciate it all the more. Because it's OK; they caught lightning in a bottle with this one. Most actors go their entire lives without leaving this kind of legacy.
I'd never seen Patricia Neal play her emotions this raw, either. The HOWL she lets out when she throws herself across the console to keep Rhodes on the air...Kazan had a way of really wringing his actors.
I won't go into any synopsis or further analysis; other reviewers have done just fine on that count. However, I am dumbfounded that this film is NOT on DVD, was NOT nominated for a single Academy Award; while I suppose the latter can be explained away by the politics of the times, it doesn't explain why Wiley and Bona's otherwise exhaustive tome "Inside Oscar" doesn't even MENTION the film as having made an impact. We were paranoid, yes, and we were cautious then (what goes around,comes around,huh?), but were audiences and critics also deaf, dumb, and blind? I intend to do further research on that note; this film is not likely to leave my psyche soon.
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65 of 67 people found the following review helpful By Judy K. Polhemus VINE VOICE on April 28, 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Once upon a time, oh, about 1957, in the far-off northeastern corner of Arkansas lived a princess, Marcia Jeffries, who has a radio show. She calls it "A Face in the Crowd" because she believes she can coax "talent" from anyone.

One day she goes to the county jail for that face which, it turns out, belongs to Larry Rhodes. He speaks right up and says, "What's in it for me?," a phrase that becomes his magic words. She gives him the luminous name Lonesome Rhodes and puts him on her morning show where he becomes an immediate local hit. Here on radio he proves he can get people to do outrageous things just by asking. Lonesome has the stuff, star quality, and becomes a radio personality. No need of wands for Lonesome--he has his own magic: the raw vitality of animal magnetism even sight unseen.

Before long Marcia and Lonesome go to Memphis for his own television show.
On their way there, she learns he is really a warty toad inside that Prince Charming disguise, but as a princess is wont to do, she ignores it. In Memphis Lonesome is growing in influence and growing to fit inside that influence. He brings a black woman off the streets and asks the television audience to help raise money to rebuild her burned down house. More than enough money is raised. It's a magic kingdom, television is, with all kinds of far-reaching influence.

Lonesome proves he can sell anything his way-- by belittling the product or boosting the product. He becomes a "wielder of opinion, a man of influence, a strong hand of the elite to guide the masses," and is backed by a maker of presidents. At this point the toad has shed that skin to become a troll.

Meanwhile, what has happened to Princess Marcia? Who is the real knight who comes to the rescue? And what happens to that troll?
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130 of 141 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Ellis on December 5, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
A Face in the Crowd, director Elia Kazan's criminally underrated 1956 political melodrama, tells the all-too plausible story of Lonsome Rhodes. Discovered by a local reporter (Patricia Neal) while spending time in a jail cell for vagrancy, Rhodes (Andy Griffith) is a drifter whose folsky charisma quickly makes him an instant celebrity. Soon, Rhodes has taken Neal as his lover and has his own television show where he gives out his home-spun opinions to a charmed nation. However, Rhodes is hardly the benevelolent country bumpkin that he presents himself to be. Instead, he is a power hungry meglomaniac who uses his fame to promote a fascist political organization. Much as he seduces a niave nation, he seduces a teenage cheerleader (Lee Remick) into being his bride. By the time that Neal and cynical television writer Walter Matthau come to realize the monster they've helped unleash on the world, it may indeed be too late.
If this film was too easily dismissed when released, it has become all the more plausible and relavent in recent years. Certainly, the current popularity of talk radio can be seen as a fulfilment of the film's prophecy. However, a more disturbing parallel can be made between Rhodes and the recent emergence of several political leaders whose popularity has been based less on their abilities and more on the "straight-talking" personalities that they skillfully display to a public disillusioned with "politics-as-usual." (Ross Perot and Jesse Ventura being just two of the more obvious examples.)
Best known for working with certifiably great actors like Marlon Brando and James Dean, Elia Kazan assembled a cast for A Face in the Crowd that may appear unlikely at first.
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