Brandie’s choice: A Face in the Crowd (1957)
Airing at 8:00PM EST
If your only familiarity with Andy Griffith is as Sheriff Andy of Mayberry, or the crusading Ben Matlock, then you are in for a rude awakening with this film.
Andy’s a bad, bad boy. And a damn fine actor.
The film stars Griffith as “Lonesome Rhodes,” a folksy country singer discovered by radio reporter Marcia Jeffries (Patricia Neal) as he sits in jail after being arrested for public drunkenness. She puts him on the air, where he becomes an immediate hit, and as his popularity grows, Marcia follows along as Rhodes becomes a true media hit. Against her better judgment, Marcia falls in love with Rhodes, whose real personality is coarse, crude, and offensive. But as Rhodes becomes a powerful media figure, influencing elections, consumerism, and public opinion while denouncing his loyal audience as “sheep” in private, Marcia slowly realizes that she has created a monster.
This film marks Lee Remick’s debut; she plays the young baton-twirler, Betty Lou, with whom Rhodes elopes, breaking Marcia’s heart.
The movie also features Walter Matthau as the educated young writer out to expose Rhodes’ true nature. There are also several cameos from notable news and entertainment personalities of the day, including Walter Winchell, Mike Wallace, Betty Furness, and Burl Ives.
Face is one of the best satires ever produced about the evils of fame and the far-reaching influence of celebrity. And because of this, it remains a highly relevant movie today, particularly in our modern society where celebrity is valued and salivated over, where people are famous simply for being famous (hello, Kardashian family). Not only that, the film’s underlying warnings about the dangers of the demagogue should be taken to heart by some of the more fervent of the pundits overflowing from the airwaves (in fact, Keith Olbermann sometimes refers to Fox News loudmouth Glenn Beck as “Lonesome Rhodes Beck” … it’s an apt comparison, but Olbermann could very well be painted with the same brush, too, a fact he either ignores or refuses to accept).
Prepare to be creeped out by seeing jolly Andy Taylor act like (for lack of a better term) a total douchebag. Like me, though, I think you’ll be impressed with the range he displays in this role. He’s much more than his television personas. See for yourself tonight!
Carrie’s choice: Days of Wine and Roses (1962)
Airing at 1:30AM EST
When I hear “Jack Lemmon” I typically think “comedy.” Let’s face, he’s brilliant at it, However, he teams up with Lee Remick in Days of Wine and Roses and it’s, well, not a comedy.
Meet an alcoholic. He meets a girl with a chocolate addition. She develops addition to alcohol. Now married to each other, alcohol becomes a problem. Here is the story of them trying to recover from alcoholism.
This film, though I haven’t seen it, has the potential to have a lot of heart, a lot of truth, and/or be blown out of proportion. I’m inclined to gamble on a lot of truth. This sort of thing does happen outside of the movies, and that makes it part of a rather unique genre. This film makes a comment, a statement. Whether or not you like the statement, I don’t know- I don’t know if I’ll even agree with it, not having seen it. Approach, approach, approach, I say.
That said, with this cast, it can’t be bad. Well done, this has the makings of rather brilliant social, psychological, and relational commentary. Considering the cast, I expect the film to be quite well done. But this isn’t going to be a happy or feel good film, but more a passing of the Days of Wine and Roses into a harsh reality. It’s a love story in a completely different sort of way. It’s raw. It’s possibly uncomfortable. It’s eerily human. Don’t expect this to be a go-down easy film, but I recommend giving it a try.