Our Old Friend, Lonesome Rhodes

I’ve been thinking a lot about a certain cultural-political trajectory this country’s been on. It’s not that anti-intellectualism and faux-folksiness are new, exactly. But it seems the ascendance of the blogosphere, talk radio, and talk tv is taking things to unprecedented heights. I mean, honestly, seems all you have to do these days to get a political followin’ is drop yer g’s when you’re talkin’ to the people. Makes ’em feel you’re just like ’em, and really understand their problems. So what if all you’ve got is a chalk board or a huntin’ rifle and a fuzzy grasp of, well, just about everything?

I say it’s time for a visit with Lonesome Rhodes, the anti-hero of the brilliant 1957 film A Face in the Crowd, directed by Elia Kazan, story and screenplay by Budd Schulberg (the same team that brought you On the Waterfront). Lonesome is a charmer: a guitar-pickin’, simple-truth-spoutin’ small town drunk who finds himself on a local radio show. His popularity, success, and power grow. Mayhem ensues. And trust me, it’s not pretty.

Two short clips here. Watch them, please (in order), and if you haven’t seen the movie, do so. In my opinion it’s one of the best American movies ever made. And I’ve seen them all.*

*Of course I haven’t. Not even close. But I still say “A Face in the Crowd” is one of the best.

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3 Responses to Our Old Friend, Lonesome Rhodes

  1. Rick Stone says:

    Thanks for posting this Andrea! I watched “On the Waterfront” many years ago, but wasn’t aware of this amazing movie (it’s going straight into my Netflix cue!). This seems just as relevant today as it was in 1957 when it was made!

    You know, I recognized Andy Griffith, but didn’t think it was him at first. Funny, he looks heavier than I remember him from his shows in the 60s (guess he must have shed a few pounds of baby fat later on).

  2. I’m glad you’re intrigued enough to order it — I’m sure you won’t be sorry. And, yes, this is a very different Andy Griffith than that guy from Mayberry! The whole movie is full of great performances, including his.

  3. Maxine Martin says:

    I’d have to agree with you that this is one of the best American films made. Before I saw it, I only knew Andy Griffith’s work from the Andy Griffith show. Then when I saw him in “A Face In The Crowd” I was so amazed with his great acting abilities. Great movie and thanks for posting it.

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