Monday, June 27, 2011

Movies You Might Have Missed Monday

When you hear the name ‘Andy Griffith,’ doubtless you think of the ‘60s TV show bearing his name, representing the good ‘ole days of Americana innocence. Or maybe Matlock. Right?

Well, one day I ventured into a 1957 Elia Kazan film (he also directed good ones like On the Waterfront and A Streetcar Named Desire) because the late greats Patricia Neal and Walter Matthau star in it. But the film, A Face in the Crowd, also stars Andy Griffith… in an amazing departure from his Mayberry days.

Patricia Neal plays Marica Jeffries, a radio show talent scout. At the beginning of the film, she takes a microphone into an Arkansas jail looking for a diamond in the rough. She finds Griffith’s character, Larry ‘Lonesome’ Rhodes, a gritty, crass, loud drunkard with a hefty personality and a set of pipes. He becomes an overnight radio sensation. As his handler/agent, Marcia has her hands full shaping a former nobody into an international star and reining in his wild side. She has a harder time not falling in love with him.

This movie spotlights the destructive nature fame has on the unprepared and immature. It’s not really an original story or even an original take on a common theme. What makes this film worth watching is Andy Griffith’s rowdy, raw, and memorable performance.

Other interesting facts about Andy – he majored in music at The University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, he won a Grammy for a southern gospel album he recorded in 1997, he starred in one of my favorite movies, Waitress, alongside Keri Russell, and he just celebrated his 85th birthday! He’ll always be a cool dude in my opinion!

(photo by