Tuesday, 12 April 2011
A Face in the Crowd is a searing feature from Elia Kazan about media manipulation and US politics. Andy Griffith (some Yank TV luminary) puts in an excellent performance as Lonesome Rhodes, a quick witted guitar playing hobo who ascends from jail to radio stardom and finally culminating in some full-on TV demagoguery. Mmm Glenn Beck parallels anyone? anyways time has given this fantastic film the glean of the mythic as it's simple telling of a popular voice turned mental egomaniac seems a template for our intervening 54 years. It's a film that reeks quality, with fine performances, cinematography and a sharp script. According to one IMDB reviewer it's based loosely on the life of this dude Arthur Godfrey. Go watch.
As I enjoyed Face so much I thought I'd revisit Lumet's Network, a film I've admired & enthused about for a quite while but haven't actually seen in ages. It's develops & updates the polemic against the power of Popularism in Amurican politics/media that Face picked up on and yet again it seems a 35yr old warning has gone largely unheeded as the our screens are truly stuffed with media shenanigans and new depths of depravity are always being plumbed. Anyways it's the story of Howard Beale, a fading TV newscaster, who proper flips his lid live on air and his rants become an overnight sensation readily exploited by ratings hungry execs. Again with great acting and a superb script this is a bone fide classic so if you kicking you're heels thinking about watching some new mass market guff trust me this is so much better.