Friday, May 25, 2012

Andy Griffith on the road to Mayberry - Not just another "Face in the Crowd"

Andy Griffith, Patricia Neal - A Face in the Crowd - ca.1957 - DA623

When you think of Andy Griffith what comes to your mind first? Is it his sweet portrayal of the happy-go-lucky sheriff of the sleepy town of Mayberry? Or is it the sharp wit and keen mind of the lawyer Matlock? Characters such as these made Andy Griffith an icon in the early days of 20thcentury television, but in 1957 he made a movie that would show not only the depth of his acting ability, but a side of his talent that kept many people stunned and in disbelief when The Andy Griffith Show first aired to American audiences in 1960. That movie was called A Face in the Crowd.
A Face in the Crowd, directed by Elia Kazan, was released in June of 1957 starring Andy Griffith and Patricia Neal. Griffith plays a low down traveling drunk named Lonesome Rhodes that is discovered by a local radio show host Marcia Jeffries (Neal) while singing in a small county jail in Arkansas. Almost over night Lonesome becomes a hit with the locals and quickly ascends the ladder of fame to national status. So much so, his very words could wreck a business or sway public opinion in the world of politics. Marcia Jeffries becomes his manager and falls for the good ‘ole boy’s country charms. In the photograph above, Marcia watches as Lonesome signs autographs. With his star shooting towards the heavens, Lonesome becomes drunk with the great power and influence bestowed upon him by his adoring public. After a time Marcia is exposed to his true nature and realizes that deep down Lonesome has no respect for the audience that loves him. He sees people as something to be manipulated and feels nothing but contempt for the fans that idolize him. Eventually his arrogance leads to his downfall and the desertion of his public, as well as Marcia.

Although released to mixed reviews by critics and the public, in 2008 the movie was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress. This role would rocket him to film fame and set him on the path to become the lovable sheriff we have all let into our homes and hearts. This film, to me, is proof that an actor/actress can be more than a single character and that their talents can exceed the roles with which we associate them the most. I mean, come on, even lovable deputy Barney Fife had a skeleton or two in his closet.

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See other photos of Andy Griffith in our store and on eBay
See other photos of Patricia Neal in our store and on eBay

Contributed by: Albert Bennett

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