Sometimes I like to talk about movies that you might not know, but really should. Things that deserved to be seen several times.
Damn good movies.
“A Face in the Crowd” 1957 B&W Ratio 1.85 : 1
If you ever watched “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” (and you know I did) you heard him reference this movie all the time. He often called Glenn Beck, “Lonesome Roads.” When you see the movie its easy to know why.
Marcia Jefferies (Patrica Neal) is a college girl with a reel to reel tape recorder looking for human interest stories for a local radio station. The county jail seems like a good place to start looking for specimens, and she gets a great one within minutes. He's Larry Rhodes (Andy Griffin), in jail for drunk and disorderly and wearing wife beater shirts.
During the interview, Larry proves to be a force of nature in his own right. He pulls out a guitar and starts ripping a a blues riff about how he's ten thousand miles from home and doesn't even know his name. It's easy to see that Marcia is smitten.
She gets Larry a regular spot on the local radio station, and right away he becomes both a local success, and quite a hand full. It doesn't take him long to discover the power of radio to manipulate the common folk. And he's finding that he has a growing distaste for these yokels .He adopts the nickname “Lonesome Rhodes”.
Soon local television beckons, and not long after that, the big time. Before long he's rubbing shoulders with network presidents and Presidential Candidates.
Along the way he picks up a manager Joey DePalma ( Tony Franciosa ) who cinical enough to see right through Lonesome almost from the beginning. Mel Miller (Walter Matthau) a streetwise television suit is equally unimpressed.
He also finds Betty Lou Fleckum ( a young Lee Remick in her first role) twirling her batons in at a local fair ground. He sees her as the perfect accessory and marries her immediately. Marcia feels ambushed by this sudden move, as she saw herself and the woman to tale the Lonesome out of Rhodes.
Larry even puts her on his show, with batons blazing. Unfortunately, she turns out to be a one trick cheerleader..Larry looses interest in time, but she adds more to the plot a little later.
Lonesome is becoming a king maker, and he knows it. He's the one who'll show the street monkeys and snuff queens who to vote for and what to think. What Lonesome has forgotten is that he was made a king maker by that other great dispensary of power. King Television.
Over in the discussion section of IMDB.Com, there is a thread of people who compare Lonesome to President Obama. These are people who have been eating from the petri dish again. As I said earlier, Olbermann would call Glen Beck “Lonesome Rhodes” all the time. The analogy held up well. Both men were know nothings who read and believed their own press releases. Both thought nothing of telling people what to think and say . I wouldn't be at all surprised to find out that the Obama thread is some sort of twisted “get Keith” meme.
Now comes the irony. The director , Elia Kazan, claims that the inspiration for Lonesome came from Ronald Reagan. Well, think about it. In 1957, Reagan's political career was barely past the Screen Actors Guild phase. On TV he was he still hadn't even hosted an episode of “Death Valley Days” yet, but he had been hosting “GE Theater” since 1954. And just like Larry, “Lonesome” Rhodes, Ronald “Dutch “ Reagan got started in small time local radio.
The movie is avalable through Amazon.com You can help me out if you buy it by clicking on that link.