A Face in the Crowd
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"I'm not just an entertainer. I'm an influence, a wielder of opinion, a force... a force!"
—Larry "Lonesome" Rhodes
Before Andy Griffith became a television legend playing a likable small-town sheriff, he portrayed a completely different type of celebrity in A Face in the Crowd, a dark look at the corruptability of sudden fame and power. In his film debut, Griffith plays Larry Rhodes, a rural drunk, drifter and country singer who becomes an overnight success when radio station promoter Marcia Jeffries (Patricia Neal) and her assistant Mel Miller (Walter Matthau) put him on the air. Behind the scenes, he turns into a power-hungry monster who must be exposed.
Budd Schulberg, who purportedly modeled the lead character on radio and TV personality Arthur Godfrey, adapted his short story "The Arkansas Traveler" for director Elia Kazan. The film also marks the film debut of Lee Remick.
A Face in the Crowd was added to the National Film Registry in 2008.
- Accidental Public Confession / Engineered Public Confession: Rhodes' downfall, when the mic is turned on when he wasn't expecting it to be. Considering that the film was released in 1957, this might be the Trope Maker for Engineered Public Confession.
- All Guys Want Cheerleaders: Rhodes divorces his wife in order to marry 17-year-old drum majorette Betty Lou Fleckum (Lee Remick's character).
- Nice Character, Mean Actor: "Lonesome" Rhodes comes off as a folksy home-spun philosopher who somehow becomes a media success. His downfall comes when his disillusioned girlfriend deliberately broadcasts what he really thinks of his audience during the closing credits of his TV program.
- Please Don't Leave Me: Rhodes screaming "Don't leave me, Marcia", long after his girlfriend had left, even after she'd admitted she'd been the one to sabotage his career.
- Strawman News Media: The "media are vapid" subtype of the trope; Rhodes's behavior is ignored or encouraged by his backers.
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