Andy Griffith first rose to stardom as folk-singing drifter Larry “Lonesome” Rhodes in this look at the intersection of media, celebrity, and politics from director Elia Kazan and screenwriter Budd Schulberg (who won an Academy Award for his screenplay for On the Waterfront). While in an Arkansas jail cell, Rhodes is suddenly thrust into the limelight when he is discovered by local radio producer Marcia Jefferies (Patricia Neal), who came looking for a colorful character who could charm the public with his folksy nature and singing voice. She’d watch with growing unease as her charismatic and crafty discovery rose from regional sensation to nationally televised–and ambitious–demagogue. Walter Matthau, Anthony Franciosa, and Lee Remick co-star.
On April 23rd, a new Criterion Collection release of A Face in the Crowd will be released with the following special features:
– New, restored 4K digital transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
– New interview with Ron Briley, author of The Ambivalent Legacy of Elia Kazan
– New interview with Andy Griffith biographer Evan Dalton Smith
– Facing the Past, a 2005 documentary featuring actors Griffith, Patricia Neal, and Anthony Franciosa; screenwriter Budd Schulberg; and film scholars Leo Braudy and Jeff Young
– Theatrical Trailer
– An essay by critic April Wolfe, excerpts from director Elia Kazan’s introduction to the film’s published screenplay, and a 1957 New York Times Magazine profile of Griffith
For a captivating look at celebrity, the cult of personality, and the often razor-thin separation between the two, A Face in the Crowd is a more than worthwhile cinematic effort.