2015 blindspot series: A Face in The Crowd (1957)

My contribution to Ryan McNeil’s 2015 blindspot series blogathon where I watch a film each month that I have never seen before.

This will just be a quick review. Directed by Elia Kazan, the story is about fame, power and the american dream, and in many ways was ahead of its time, foreshadowing the celebrity craze which we still see today. Andy Griffith is unforgettable in the lead role as charismatic, guitar-playing Larry ‘Lonesome’ Rhodes, who is discovered, becomes a radio sensation, and this changes his life. You should see the story unfold for yourself, I don’t want to give too much away.

The story raises issues about the nature of fortune and fame, temptations, manipulation, jealousy and pitfalls. A film that comments on our society, and is still highly relevant.

I loved the performances, and the applause in the final scene felt iconic. That said, A Face in The Crowd does seem to drag and felt needlessly overlong. The film launched Griffith into stardom, but earned mixed reviews upon its original release. Later decades have seen reappraisals of the movie.

Rating 8/10

Agree or disagree? Have you watched A Face in The Crowd (1957), and what did you think? Which is your favorite film directed by Elia Kazan?

10 thoughts on “2015 blindspot series: A Face in The Crowd (1957)

  1. Great choice. It's still a relevant film, for sure. I agree about its length, and the performances really do stand out. It's too bad Andy Griffith didn't get more awards attention for his performance.

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  2. This film is all about Patricia Neal for me. She was just incredible. I agree that this was a tag overlong, and I found Griffith to be reaching in some scenes, but Neal just grounds the film so beautifully.

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  3. @Fisti: Andy Griffith has the showier performance, so it’s easy to overlook the rest of the cast. I agree Patricia Neal delivers strong work as well. She has a charming face, easy on the eye.

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  4. This is such an excellent film. I can believe it was ahead of it's time although it shares it callous hard eyed view of human nature with the earlier Ace in the Hole which was REALLY ahead of its time. It could have used a snip here and there to tighten it up but overall it's very compelling. Griffith is wonderful in the lead but to me the standouts are Walter Matthau and most especially Patricia Neal who would get my vote for best actress of '57. She's amazing.

    My favorite Kazan is a tough call. I love this film, Wild River, Splendor in the Grass, Pickup on South Street about equally but I think my favorite would have to be his East of Eden, a beautifully realized version of the second half of that book.

    Now my least favorite is a cinch the godawful Tracy/Hepburn misfire The Sea of Grass. I believe he had to make it under studio duress and both he and Kate & Spencer considered it a disappointment.

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  5. @joel65913: You’re the second person in the comments who highlights Patricia Neal(I’m curious to check out her other work). Good catch on Ace in The Hole (1951), there are certainly comparisons to be made, and I actually prefer that Billy Wilder film as a piece of entertainment.

    Of Kazan’s filmography, I have yet to see, Splendor in the Grass, Gentleman's Agreement, Wild River, and A Tree Grows In Brooklyn. My favorites right now are A Streetcar Named Desire and On the Waterfront. I’d rank East of Eden third, A Face in the Crowd fourth. (Pickup on South Street is Samuel Fuller). I’ll skip The Sea of Fire then 🙂

    By the way Joel, do you have a film blog?

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  6. I didn't get to see a Blindspot film this month, just couldn't fit it in. As for this film, I've been wanting to check out more of Elia Kazan's work so I'll keep this one in mind.

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  7. @Ruth: Kazan has directed several unmissable classics, especially the Brando films Streetcar Named Desire & On The Waterfront. You should add a film of his to your 2016 blind spot list 🙂

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