Trivia & Fun Facts About A FACE IN THE CROWD
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Andy Griffith, who had earned rave reviews on Broadway for his performance in No Time for Sergeants, captured the Lonesome Rhodes character so well that it took him years to live down the role. But Griffith was not finished playing despicable characters, despite being stereotyped as the kind and understanding sheriff and father on the TV series The Andy Griffith Show. Griffith earned kudos for his role as an aging cowboy stuntman who turns out to be a not very admirable character in Hearts of the West (1975). He also gave a memorably evil performance in the made-for-TV movie Murder in Coweta County (1983), co-starring Johnny Cash.
A Face in the Crowd was not only Andy Griffith's film debut but also the first film for supporting actress Lee Remick as cheerleader Betty Lou Fleckum. The film also includes impressive supporting performances by Kay Medford, Burl Ives, Rip Torn, Diana Sands, Faye Emerson, Charles Nelson Reilly and Big Jeff Bess.
The Lonesome Rhodes character was based on several real-life personalities, including Arthur Godfrey, Huey Long, Will Rogers, and even Billy Graham.
The ad agency that Kazan and Schulberg studied as their research for A Face in the Crowd represented the Lipton's Tea account, which was the official sponsor of Arthur Godfrey's radio/tv appearances. The duo may have been trying to uncover the true nature of Godfrey's role as a media pitchman.
Before Elia Kazan ever meet Andy Griffith, he had heard his comedy monologue records, the most famous being the "What It Was, Was Football" routine which enjoyed constant airplay on Southern radio stations during the early Fifties. It's highly probable that Kazan first became aware of this monologue during his pre-production trip to Arkansas.
The Memphis scene in A Face in the Crowd parallels the popularity of Elvis Presley, who was a national star by 1956. The rock 'n roller began filming Love Me Tender the same month Kazan was filming in Piggott, Arkansas - August 1956.
In the book, The Great Man, a popular phrase was coined by writer Al Morgan - "The Great Unwashed" - which was a reference to the national radio-TV audience. Morgan later adapted his novel to the screen in 1956 with Jose Ferrer and Dean Jagger in key roles. It tells the story of a reporter preparing a memorial tribute to a beloved TV personality who in real-life was a despicable phony. Morgan's narrative was obviously a precursor to the Schulberg/Kazan movie in its themes and characters. Morgan was well aware of the true personality behind many public figures since he was a Today show producer (He was later involved in a six-year feud with Hugh Downs, the host of the Today show).
FAMOUS QUOTES from A FACE IN THE CROWD
Joey DePalma: Illegal? Honey, nothing's illegal if they don't catch you!
Lonesome Rhodes: I put my whole self into everything I do.
Lonesome Rhodes: This whole country's just like my flock of sheep! Hillbillies, hausfraus - everybody that's got to jump when someone else blows a whistle! They're mine!
Compiled by Scott McGee & Jeff Stafford