Criterion Press Release: A Face In The Crowd (Blu-ray)

3 Stars

Ge9NUnmWvujUZYFWo5TMq6nMZdFLPy_large.

A Face in the Crowd chronicles the rise and fall of Larry “Lonesome” Rhodes (Andy Griffith), a boisterous entertainer discovered in an Arkansas drunk tank by Marcia Jeffries (Patricia Neal), a local radio producer with ambitions of her own. His charisma and cunning soon shoot him to the heights of television stardom and political demagoguery, forcing Marcia to grapple with the manipulative, reactionary monster she has created. Directed by Elia Kazan from a screenplay by Budd Schulberg, this incisive satire features an extraordinary debut screen performance by Griffith, who brandishes his charm in an uncharacteristically sinister role. Though the film was a flop on its initial release, subsequent generations have marveled at its eerily prescient diagnosis of the toxic intimacy between media and politics in American life.

FILM INFO

  • Elia Kazan
  • United States
  • 1957
  • 126 minutes
  • Black & White
  • 1.85:1
  • English
  • Spine #970SPECIAL FEATURES
    • New, restored 4K digital transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
    • New interview with Ron Briley, author of The Ambivalent Legacy of Elia Kazan
    • New interview with Andy Griffith biographer Evan Dalton Smith
    • Facing the Past, a 2005 documentary featuring actors Andy Griffith, Patricia Neal, and Anthony Franciosa; screenwriter Budd Schulberg; and film scholars Leo Braudy and Jeff Young
    • Trailer
    • PLUS: An essay by critic April Wolfe and a 1957 New York Times Magazine profile of Andy Griffith

    New cover by Marc Aspinall

    April 23, 2019

Published by

Ronald Epstein

administrator

49 Comments

  1. The price link below will take you directly to the product on Amazon. If you are using an adblocker you will not see link.

    [parsehtml]
    <iframe style="width:120px;height:240px;" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" src="//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ss&ref=as_ss_li_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=htfronsposts-20&language=en_US&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B07MK45L4R&asins=B07MK45L4R&linkId=6f2e416c868caf4f0622efa84db9ca05&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true"></iframe>
    [/parsehtml]

  2. Yes, this picture is probably more reflective of our political situation now than it was of the world it debuted in. Great film with an epic turn from Andy Griffith. Although, I would say, this is sort of toned down from the more dangerous lunacy we have to cope with now.

  3. Sorry, I thought I had just made a bland comment that did not point the finger at anybody nor single anybody out and so did not think it was politically inflammatory.

    If you think it crossed a line or will lead to trouble here please feel free to delete that post and this one, Robert.

    Not my intent, I just was trying to say it is a film people should watch and may get more bang for their buck from now than folks did back when it was released.

    Ronald Epstein

    Though the film was a flop on its initial release, subsequent generations have marveled at its eerily prescient diagnosis of the toxic intimacy between media and politics in American life.

    The film itself is obviously commenting on these things so in this context I thought I had just made a relevant comment.

  4. Robert Crawford

    Stop with the current political commentary!

    While I totally understand the HTF's desire to avoid political dissension but to be fair, how is it possible to discuss a film with political content without discussing that political content and its contemporary resonance? If we are discussing, All The King's Men or All The President's Men or even something like the current Vice are we to restrict outselves to the political climate of the film's era without their current parallels? It's like asking not to discuss current race relations when discussing older films like The Defiant Ones and Imitation Of Life that dealt with race in America during the 1950s.

  5. Thomas T

    While I totally understand the HTF's desire to avoid political dissension but to be fair, how is it possible to discuss a film with political content without discussing that political content and its contemporary resonance? If we are discussing, All The King's Men or All The President's Men or even something like the current Vice are we to restrict outselves to the political climate of the film's era without their current parallels? It's like asking not to discuss current race relations when discussing older films like The Defiant Ones and Imitation Of Life that dealt with race in America during the 1950s.

    As a member who has several times been warned on this forum about political content, I must say I agree with Tom on this. It's a fine line; none of us here has an agenda that includes offending anyone, we are simply reacting to specific films that mirror or suggest current events, and to disallow comments along those lines kind of hamstrings us, no? Political correctness is one thing, but that can be a short road to censorship, something none of us here believes in. I suspect I will receive another warning now, having said this. 🙂

  6. A roommate of mine in college convinced me to watch this film because I was a big Andy Griffith fan. It blew me away. I don't believe that Griffith ever gave a more potent and chilling performance in his career like he did in this film.

    Sadly, after having encountered Griffith in the flesh and talking with friends who knew him well over the years, I learned that his true personality was much closer to that of Lonesome Rhodes than what he displayed in public. Still, it's a remarkable performance in a brilliant and still-timely satire.

    I've shared this story often, but I don't know if I've done so here.

    During college in the 1990's, I spent my summers acting in a show down in Manteo, NC, where Andy lived. My first summer down there, I was in the local grocery store, checking out my groceries. The front door of the store opened and in walked Andy Griffith; shirtless, tousled, and obviously inebriated. He stood at the front of the store and shouted, "WHERE IN THE HELL IS THE TARAGON?"

    I was, needless to say, quite caught off guard by this scene, notwithstanding the fact that the drunken loudmouth standing before me was a man I grew up idolizing.

    An employee of the store went to Andy and led him back to the spice aisle.

    The cashier noticed the flabbergasted look on my face and said, "Sadly, this type of thing happens more often than you'd imagine," and went back to scanning my purchases with a look that told me that this was, indeed, nothing new.

    I encountered Andy a few more times in the years I worked down there. One time, he was floating by our backstage area in his pontoon boat, giving us the finger. Another time, he was visiting the theater to give a talk and accept an award for his support of the show over the years. (He had worked there as a young man.) We were told not to speak to him. He was, again, drunk and proceeded to disjointedly ramble for ten minutes or so, flipping from one subject to the next with no connection in topics.

    I learned a hard lesson during those summers about expectations versus reality. There was a time after that where I had a hard time watching anything he was in, especially The Andy Griffith Show, which had been and remains a favorite show of mine. Gradually, I was able to separate the man from the work and could enjoy his performances again. I'll never be able to forget my disappointment in him as a person, though.

  7. Thomas T

    While I totally understand the HTF's desire to avoid political dissension but to be fair, how is it possible to discuss a film with political content without discussing that political content and its contemporary resonance? If we are discussing, All The King's Men or All The President's Men or even something like the current Vice are we to restrict outselves to the political climate of the film's era without their current parallels? It's like asking not to discuss current race relations when discussing older films like The Defiant Ones and Imitation Of Life that dealt with race in America during the 1950s.

    Thomas,

    That is correct as that type of discussion can and will go down a slippery slope very quickly in order to discuss the current state of politics in this country. The Moderator Staff is not going to allow that broader political discussion on this forum.

    4. No politics or religion. We do not permit the discussion of politics or religion at HTF. However, there is a narrow exception to this rule. If the subject matter of a movie or television show includes politics and/or religion, then they may be discussed insofar as they pertain to that specific movie or television show. We stress, however, that such discussions are carefully monitored and will be moderated if it appears that any participant is using this narrow exception to introduce a broader political or religious discussion than is warranted by the movie or television show under discussion. Also, anyone who has not seen a particular movie or television show is disqualified from discussing its political and/or religious content under this rule. Note: Posts by HTF staff including reviewers may on occasion be given wider discretion by site management.

  8. Reggie W

    The film itself is obviously commenting on these things so in this context I thought I had just made a relevant comment.

    Reggie,

    I'm just trying to prevent any further in-depth political commentary regarding the current political climate as this forum's membership is made up of people with different political philosophies and as such, political discussion can easily cross the line as a full blown discussion of today's politics. Based on our posting guidelines, such a discussion should take place somewhere else besides the HTF.

  9. Brian Kidd

    I learned a hard lesson during those summers about expectations versus reality. There was a time after that where I had a hard time watching anything he was in, especially The Andy Griffith Show, which had been and remains a favorite show of mine. Gradually, I was able to separate the man from the work and could enjoy his performances again. I'll never be able to forget my disappointment in him as a person, though.

    I've encountered many stars both personally (Tab Hunter sat next to me at a dinner party once) and professionally (I was petting a stray cat on a set once when Christopher Walken came over and fed the cat some sushi) and had the ability to observe them first hand. I've found that with three exceptions (who shall go nameless), the majority of them are very nice people.

  10. Robert Crawford

    Reggie,

    I'm just trying to prevent any further in-depth political commentary regarding the current political climate as this forum's membership is made up of people with different political philosophies and as such, political discussion can easily cross the line as a full blown discussion of today's politics. Based on our posting guidelines, such a discussion should take place somewhere else besides the HTF.

    Yes, and I appreciate the difficulty of your job and that you do it well. So, thank you for doing so. I have no complaint with your warning.

    I do realize that a good half the battle may not be what the first person says but rather how the next 5 people react to it.

  11. Reggie W

    Yes, and I appreciate the difficulty of your job and that you do it well. So, thank you for doing so. I have no complaint with your warning.

    I do realize that a good half the battle may not be what the first person says but rather how the next 5 people react to it.

    "That's a bingo!"

  12. Thomas T

    I've encountered many stars both personally (Tab Hunter sat next to me at a dinner party once) and professionally (I was petting a stray cat on a set once when Christopher Walken came over and fed the cat some sushi) and had the ability to observe them first hand. I've found that with three exceptions (who shall go nameless), the majority of them are very nice people.

    I was fortunate to be able to interact with a lot of professional golfing legends as a volunteer for a PGA Senior Tour event that was held locally for several years, and my experience was very similar to yours. With a couple of exceptions (including one which would surprise many golf fans), they were very nice people. I will say that Arnold Palmer was exactly as he seemed — one of the most decent, generous, down-to-earth friendly persons I have ever met. He genuinely seemed to enjoy being the legend Arnold Palmer and all the responsibility that carried.

  13. Brian Kidd

    A roommate of mine in college convinced me to watch this film because I was a big Andy Griffith fan. It blew me away. I don't believe that Griffith ever gave a more potent and chilling performance in his career like he did in this film.

    Sadly, after having encountered Griffith in the flesh and talking with friends who knew him well over the years, I learned that his true personality was much closer to that of Lonesome Rhodes than what he displayed in public. Still, it's a remarkable performance in a brilliant and still-timely satire.

    I've shared this story often, but I don't know if I've done so here.

    During college in the 1990's, I spent my summers acting in a show down in Manteo, NC, where Andy lived. My first summer down there, I was in the local grocery store, checking out my groceries. The front door of the store opened and in walked Andy Griffith; shirtless, tousled, and obviously inebriated. He stood at the front of the store and shouted, "WHERE IN THE HELL IS THE TARAGON?"

    I was, needless to say, quite caught off guard by this scene, notwithstanding the fact that the drunken loudmouth standing before me was a man I grew up idolizing.

    An employee of the store went to Andy and led him back to the spice aisle.

    The cashier noticed the flabbergasted look on my face and said, "Sadly, this type of thing happens more often than you'd imagine," and went back to scanning my purchases with a look that told me that this was, indeed, nothing new.

    I encountered Andy a few more times in the years I worked down there. One time, he was floating by our backstage area in his pontoon boat, giving us the finger. Another time, he was visiting the theater to give a talk and accept an award for his support of the show over the years. (He had worked there as a young man.) We were told not to speak to him. He was, again, drunk and proceeded to disjointedly ramble for ten minutes or so, flipping from one subject to the next with no connection in topics.

    I learned a hard lesson during those summers about expectations versus reality. There was a time after that where I had a hard time watching anything he was in, especially The Andy Griffith Show, which had been and remains a favorite show of mine. Gradually, I was able to separate the man from the work and could enjoy his performances again. I'll never be able to forget my disappointment in him as a person, though.

    This is so similar to an occurrence in my life that I will relate it here, although it has nothing to do with the Criterion thread.

    I knew actor Gary Merrill between 1966-1972, when he lived nearby in Falmouth Foreside, Maine. He had come to my school to recite poetry and captivated the student body with his contemporary take on Shakespeare ("Willie the Shake.") I interviewed him for our local paper, which printed the conversation verbatim on the front page, and during that interview asked if he would be amenable to acting in one of my Super 8mm movies, which I was making as one of only a handful of Maine residents who were making movies, and to my surprise he seemed happy to agree. He ultimately participated in three of my films (one of them 16mm, never completed).

    Years later, I was teaching drama to a group of youngsters, and thought it would be great if Mr. Merrill would agree to speak to them. I screened TWELVE O'CLOCK HIGH for them and they were stoked for the actor's appearance.

    He was late showing up. When he did, he was escorted by a friend of his, and was completely plastered. His speech before my students was slurred and I did not feel at all sure he would get through it. At the end, my group seemed impressed, but I was completely devastated. This man had been my hero, my mentor. Here he was, displaying a side of him I had never seen.

    Now, looking back on that night decades after the fact (Merrill died in 1990), I look at this whole thing as an example of how we can all be crestfallen by seeing an idol show his or her flawed human side. My parents were flawed, too. As am I. In the end, Gary Merrill was a good friend to me, and the warts he displayed on that night some 35 years ago have faded away and left me with an appreciation of a conflicted man not unlike most of us.

    I am honored to have known him.

  14. Thomas T

    I know it's the movie that matters, not the cover art but damn, that's one ugly cover! 😛

    It sure is! Hopefully, like the initial Some Like It Hot cover, it will be redone. This looks more like An Ass In the Crowd.

    But, regardless, fantastic film that is a definite buy for me.

  15. Robert Crawford

    Thomas, That is correct as that type of discussion can and will go down a slippery slope very quickly in order to discuss the current state of politics in this country. The Moderator Staff is not going to allow that broader political discussion on this forum.

    I assume we will be able to discuss "today's" political climate 10 years from now when they make a movie about it then? 🙂

  16. Thomas T

    I assume we will be able to discuss "today's" political climate 10 years from now when they make a movie about it then? 🙂

    Which is what Vice playing now is. No partisan commentary here other than it is a finalist for the best screenplay WGA awards we just voted on. And as far as discussing A Face in the Crowd and why it's relevant now, at some point WTF transcends any political considerations or sides.

  17. When I saw Elvis Costello live in 2016, he mentioned that he had been working on composing a musical inspired by "A Face In The Crowd" and performed a couple songs that were meant to be part of that project.

    I don't know what happened with that – it's now 2019 and I haven't heard anything further about it – but I was intrigued by that possibility.

    I'll happily make do with the Criterion disc until something else materializes.

  18. Ken Koc

    Great Film…the artwork????…seriously why does it look like he wants something in his ass? Criterion cover artwork is bizarre.

    Maybe it's a clue hinting at a future Criterion release.

  19. Worth

    Maybe it's a clue hinting at a future Criterion release.

    Ass Good As It Gets perhaps? The Twilight Time has been out of print for quite some time. Or perhaps Brokeba ….. no, perhaps it's best not to go there 🙂

  20. Ken Koc

    Great Film…the artwork????…seriously why does it look like he wants something in his ass? Criterion cover artwork is bizarre.

    I dunno what's up with Criterion's artwork choices, as they've been getting uglier and uglier over time.

    I understand that they want something that differentiates their version vs. others, but it seems like they've decided to go with the worst-looking options.

    The "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" cover isn't quite "Face" ugly, but it's close!

  21. [parsehtml]
    <iframe style="width:120px;height:240px;" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" src="//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ss&ref=as_ss_li_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=htfronsposts-20&language=en_US&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B07MK45L4R&asins=B07MK45L4R&linkId=6f2e416c868caf4f0622efa84db9ca05&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true"></iframe>
    [/parsehtml]

  22. The Criterion artists are very good within their abilities to draw;
    although I do wonder, as of late, if their work hasn't become more of an expression of their own personalities than that of the film, itself.

  23. Oh, I've also met other celebrities who couldn't have been more gracious and friendly. Don Knotts, Ed O'Neil, LeVar Burton were all just as nice as can be. Many others as well. Andy was definitely an exception, and someone whom I had admired since childhood, so that's why it was such a shock and disappointment.

  24. Reggie W

    Yes, and I appreciate the difficulty of your job and that you do it well. So, thank you for doing so. I have no complaint with your warning.

    I do realize that a good half the battle may not be what the first person says but rather how the next 5 people react to it.

    Robert does do his job well. 😀

    But as to that last sentence, there IS often a good deal of truth in it. Someone makes a comment and it is often the responses that spiral down the rabbit hole. And that is why we often try to nip such situations in the bud (to quote another famous peacekeeper, Barney Fyfe).

    But this is Reggie's post on the topic:

    Reggie W

    Yes, this picture is probably more reflective of our political situation now than it was of the world it debuted in. Great film with an epic turn from Andy Griffith. Although, I would say, this is sort of toned down from the more dangerous lunacy we have to cope with now.

    Sentence 1: Solid.
    Sentence 2: Equally solid.
    Sentence 3: High volatility as it speaks more to the current political scene in the country than the plot of the film and the upcoming release.

    And while I don't mean to pick on Reggie here (although if the shoe fits! :laugh: ), since a number of members raised the subject and Robert ably responded with our specific rule on the matter, I thought I would extrapolate further with my own viewpoint–hoping it provides further clarity.

    There are LOTS of ways to discuss the political content in this and other films–without the membership staking its own personal positions while doing so. It's not impossible at all.

    All that said, this is a film I am looking forward to becoming acquainted with. First Criterion sale after release date and I'm in!

  25. Brian Kidd

    Oh, I've also met other celebrities who couldn't have been more gracious and friendly. Don Knotts, Ed O'Neil, LeVar Burton were all just as nice as can be. Many others as well. Andy was definitely an exception, and someone whom I had admired since childhood, so that's why it was such a shock and disappointment.

    I heard stories about Frances Bavier becoming a virtual recluse when she moved to Siler City, NC.

  26. I watched the movie over the TCM app this afternoon. Criterion will have to do some clean-up with the transfer as there was dust and some damage on the one presented on TCM.

    But what a gripping movie this is and always has been: haunting, galvanizing, frightening. I wonder if Andy ever looked back on it and sighed that he never did any better than this brilliant performance, and it was at the front end of his long, long career.

  27. Matt Hough

    I watched the movie over the TCM app this afternoon. Criterion will have to do some clean-up with the transfer as there was dust and some damage on the one presented on TCM.

    But what a gripping movie this is and always has been: haunting, galvanizing, frightening. I wonder if Andy ever looked back on it and sighed that he never did any better than this brilliant performance, and it was at the front end of his long, long career.

    It will an apples to oranges comparison as I'm sure TCM showed what the 2005 DVD was derived from while this upcoming Blu-ray is derived from a new 4K digital transfer.

  28. I'm glad to get be able to get rid of my Warners DVD copy, likely to fail sometime in the near future (will need to do a skip to skip chapter search first) with something that should prove far more durable.

  29. Can't wait until this drops, as this has been on my Wish List for quite some time. As relevant now as when it first came out. However, can't agree more that the artwork leaves something to be desired. Really awful! If I might suggest, we could use an Elia Kazan blu-ray retrospective similar to the Bergman set. Oh, to see A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, Pinky, Man On A Tightrope, Splendor in the Grass, Baby Doll and The Arrangement on Blu!!!
    :cheers:

  30. Woyzeck37

    Can't wait until this drops, as this has been on my Wish List for quite some time. As relevant now as when it first came out. However, can't agree more that the artwork leaves something to be desired. Really awful! If I might suggest, we could use an Elia Kazan blu-ray retrospective similar to the Bergman set. Oh, to see A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, Pinky, Man On A Tightrope, Splendor in the Grass, Baby Doll and The Arrangement on Blu!!!

    Pinky, Man on a Tightrope, and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn were released on the 2 "Elia Kazan Collection" volumes back in 2012.

  31. Peter, thanks for your reply! Having picked up the entire Scorsese Kazan Collection on DVD set I didn't realize there were actually Blu Ray editions out there. Thought I'd done my homework. I will investigate those to see the particulars. Thanks for the heads up!

    :rolling-smiley:

  32. Looking forward to A Face in the Crowd Blu release.

    I first saw AFITC for the first time on the older DVD, not long after AG passed back in Summer 2012. I had never heard of the film prior to this – however, after he died I read an excellent article praising the film on CNN.com, which inspired me to seek out the movie.

    In anticipation of the Blu release, I just re-watched the DVD. This movie is one of the best films ever made, and I also feel it's Griffith's best role. Excellent & unsettling – even by today's standards. I never liked the insipid Andy Griffith show, even growing up as a kid – I felt it was boring & an unrealistic, idealized version of American society that never really existed. So, it was interesting that Griffith was the lead in this early role as an evil & narcissistic person, which was the exact opposite of all/most of the roles he was in subsequent to this film.

    Going along with this, I'm not surprised that AFITC wasn't more popular & well-known prior to Griffith's death – i.e., I'm sure that his "Lonesome Rhodes" persona wouldn't have sat too well with many of his more conservative fans – LOL.

  33. The Drifter

    Looking forward to A Face in the Crowd Blu release.

    I first saw AFITC for the first time on the older Criterion DVD, not long after AG passed back in Summer 2012. I had never heard of the film prior to this – however, after he died I read an excellent article praising the film on CNN.com (I think), which inspired me to seek out the movie.

    In anticipation of the Blu release, I just re-watched the DVD. This movie is one of the best films ever made, and I also feel it's Griffith's best role. Excellent & unsettling – even by today's standards. I never liked the insipid Andy Griffith show, even growing up as a kid – I felt it was boring & an unrealistic, idealized version of American society that never really existed. So, it was interesting that Griffith was the lead in this early role as an evil & narcissistic person, which was the exact opposite of all/most of the roles he was in subsequent to this film.

    Going along with this, I'm not surprised that AFITC wasn't more popular & well-known prior to Griffith's death – i.e., I'm sure that his "Lonesome Rhodes" persona wouldn't have sat too well with many of his more conservative fans – LOL.

    Uh, last I checked, Face in the Crowd didn’t have a Criterion edition until now.

  34. richardburton84

    Uh, last I checked, Face in the Crowd didn’t have a Criterion edition until now.

    Thanks – I just made the correction. I must have mis-remembered seeing this on the Criterion label; it must have just been on a regular DVD. It's the type of film that you would think would have been on the Criterion label back in the 200X's, due to it being a great film, but somewhat obscure – at least at one time.

  35. Mike Frezon

    All that said, this is a film I am looking forward to becoming acquainted with. First Criterion sale after release date and I'm in!

    Do not miss the chance to do so. Excellent film about the influence of the media and populist wackos selling nonsense to a public all too eager to eat it up.

Leave a Reply