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A Face in the Crowd Reviews

Andy Griffith made an unforgettable screen debut in this film as Lonesome Rhodes, a cracker-barrel philosopher discovered by Marcia Jeffries (Neal), who puts him on her local television station in Arkansas. His down-home wit and backwater jokes soon gain a wide audience, after which one of the state's largest stations picks up his show, followed by a network, until his face is seen throughout the land and his homespun wisdom becomes the creed of large numbers of Americans. But Jeffries and her assistant, Mel Miller (Matthau), soon realize that good old "Lonesome Rhodes" is not the kindly rural savant he appears to be. Director Elia Kazan and writer Budd Schulberg, who collaborated so effectively in ON THE WATERFRONT, again proved their ability to produce a raw, penetrating, and terrifying portrait of humanity in A FACE IN THE CROWD. Griffith, who had made a name for himself on Broadway with No Time for Sergeants, skyrocketed to fame after his performance as the vicious but fascinating Lonesome Rhodes--capturing the character so well it would take him some time to live the role down. Neal is superb as the tough but vulnerable television producer snared by the hillbilly philosopher, and Matthau plays his cynical newsman to the hilt.