In a delightfully subversive programming decision, Turner Classic Movies (TCM) is showing A Face in the Crowd tonight at 8pm, just days before the election. One of the best political films ever made, "A Face in the Crowd" tells the story of a good-looking country bumpkin who becomes a powerful political figure in the nascent days of television. It was released in 1957, but the characters and the story are fresh as paint.
Andy Griffith (who was one sexy hunk of man back in the day) stars as Larry "Lonesome" Rhodes, the gorgeous Patricia Neal is his ambitious producer and Walter Matthau is at his cynical best as a television writer. If that cast wasn't fabulous enough, Lee Remick makes her film debut as a baton-twirling, teenage beauty queen.
Though it's on many distinguished critics' lists of favorite films, A Face in the Crowd has been under the radar since it was released, probably because its director and writer were personas non grata to much of Hollywood.
Elia Kazan and Bud Schulberg cooperated with the House Un-American Activities Committee, and though the back-story is not so neat and tidy, there were many in the industry that didn't want to see the two succeed in any venture. Ironically, this cautionary tale of a film skewers the very system that brought Joe McCarthy to power, and can been seen as an apology of sorts by the filmmakers to their colleagues and the American public.
If you still have enough money to subscribe to cable, turn on TMC tonight and be prepared to see a thoroughly entertaining and terrifying story of how a person with lots of sex appeal and limited education and experience can become a national political figure overnight.