A Face In The Crowd


This is the third screening in a five-part series entitled AMERICAN EGO in which we invite the audience to view this selection of Classical Hollywood cinema with a critical eye to its preconceptions and depictions of success.

Part 3: The Supremacy of Celebrity
by Elia Kazan
1957, digital projection, 126 mins

"Marcia Jeffries (Patricia Neal) is an ambitious young radio reporter. In a southern backcountry jail, she interviews and discovers a charming Arkansas folk-singing drifter (who also fancies himself a philosopher) named Lonesome Rhodes (Andy Griffith). Lured by his effortless charm and unfiltered coarseness, Marcia aids Lonesome into becoming an overnight media sensation by developing him as a radio personality. His unexpected and instant success transforms him from local media rabble-rouser to national television superstar. Soon, his popularity is such that he begins to entertain political ambitions; however, Lonesome has a dark side and it begins to develop as his ego grows larger, eventually requiring Jeffries and her assistant Mel Miller (Walter Matthau) to take control of their "creation." A FACE IN THE CROWD is clearly ahead of its time, a potent message about the power of celebrity in the mass media and certainly one of the first movies to question the influence of television."

Program notes and program by Ashley Cooper.

Ashley Cooper is a Location Coordinator for film and TV productions based in Chicago. She is a cinephile who has a passion for classic American cinema.