Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Face in the Crowd

Dir: Elia Kazan, 1957 (9.5*)
This could be Elia Kazan's best film, a real masterpiece. Patricia Neal has a roving reporter show for her uncle's smalltown Arkansas radio station - she goes out hunting for the "face in the crowd" daily, and finds Andy Griffith (terrific dramatic performance that plays off his "aw shucks" country yokel persona perfectly) in a local jail, with a guitar and spontaneous blues songs and down home style of talking that strikes a chord with listeners... what follows is a "far ahead of its time" parable of media made personalitites shaping mass thought in America... brilliant stuff.

At the time (1957) Kazan was still an outcast for his HUAC testimony, so the Oscars® shunned the film and it had no box office either. Author Budd Schulberg (in a documentary on the dvd) says that he gets much more interest and acclaim for the story now than he did back then. A young Walter Matthau is a perfectly cynical tv writer, and a teen-aged Lee Remick is a baton-twirling jailbait pastry, sweet enough to tempt anyone.


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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

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