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A 50-year-old film foresaw the emergence of today's right-wing "demagogues in denim."

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marmar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-01-07 11:59 AM
Original message
A 50-year-old film foresaw the emergence of today's right-wing "demagogues in denim."
from TomPaine.com:



Prophetic Face in the Crowd
David Haven Blake, TomPaine.com
November 01, 2007


David Haven Blake, associate professor of English at the College of New Jersey, is the author of "Walt Whitman and the Culture of American Celebrity." He is currently writing a book about democracy and fame in the television age.

Frank Capra's film "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" (1939) pervades American political culture. For decades, the film's account of an idealistic young senator who battles government corruption has been our gleaming cultural clich, the standard by which we measure new political personalities.

But the problem with invoking Jefferson Smithwhether for inspiration or ironyis that his story is a poor touchstone for thinking about the workings of democracy. For all of its attention to senate protocol and power blocs, there is nothing in Capras film that can help us understand the spectacle of candidates trying to win over an electorate.

Mr. Smith, we might remember, was never elected to office; he received a special governor's appointment.

It is time to enter a new film into American political consciousness, one more suited to the spectacle of Fred Thompson announcing his presidential campaign on "The Tonight Show" or Barack Obama boogying with Ellen DeGeneres on daytime TV. My nomination is "A Face in the Crowd" (1957), screenwriter Budd Schulberg and director Elia Kazans startling film about the power of media and celebrity. Though the occasion was hardly noticed, the film recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. Could there be a better time to reflect on its continuing relevance?

"A Face in the Crowd" tells the story of Lonesome Rhodes, a drunken roustabout played by a magnetic Andy Griffith. Discovered in a small town jail by an ambitious producer (Patricia ONeal), Rhodes experiences overnight success as an Arkansas radio personality. He quickly evolves into a television sensation and guitar-picking American icon. With the help of the retired general whose vitamin company sponsors his show, he becomes a wielder of national opinion, a showman eager to comment on public affairs.

With devastating bluntness, Rhodes coaches a presidential candidate how to speak in the folksy, down-home style that his 65 million viewers prefer. (The candidate, a rather priggish senator, demonstrates his newly-acquired skills as a guest on Rhodes "Cracker Barrel" TV show.) Politicians see Rhodes as being so influential that they talk about giving him a new cabinet position: the Secretary of National Morale. Fueled by a heavy dose of Jack Daniels, the scene in which he responds to his empires collapse will forever change the way you look at the normally affable Griffith. ........(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.tompaine.com/articles/2007/11/01/prophetic_f...



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NYCGirl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-01-07 12:01 PM
Response to Original message
1. Yes, Andy Griffith (believe it or not) gives one of the most frightening and
memorable performances in movie history. His Lonesome Rhodes is a remarkable portrayal.
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Speck Tater Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-01-07 12:16 PM
Response to Original message
2. Sounds interesting, and worth taking a look. Added to my Netflix! nt
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Cleita Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-01-07 12:40 PM
Response to Original message
3. Another good article about this movie is in the March 2007
issue of Vanity Fair, "An Unforgettable Face" by James Wolcott. I'm sure your local library has a copy of it.
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marmar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-01-07 12:43 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. I think I have that issue in a "I intend to throw them out eventually" pile of mags in my bedroom...
Thanks for the tip. :thumbsup:
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lyonn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-01-07 12:48 PM
Response to Original message
5. Don't recall seeing this movie
Just proves that no matter how far the mind can venture into the bizarre, GW can match it and raise.
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frylock Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-01-07 12:56 PM
Response to Original message
6. i recently picked this up..
think I'll view it this weekend.
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malaise Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-01-07 01:00 PM
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7. Thanks I'll pick up a copy n/t
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vireo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-01-07 01:13 PM
Response to Original message
8. Turner Classic Movies showed it last night
Next showing is Nov. 29 at 10:15PM Eastern.
http://www.tcmdb.com/title/title.jsp?stid=74421
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NMDemDist2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-01-07 01:41 PM
Response to Reply #8
9. thanks, I set the DVR n/t
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eppur_se_muova Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-01-07 01:43 PM
Response to Original message
10. Hmmmmm ...
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bonnieS Donating Member (215 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-01-07 02:55 PM
Response to Original message
11. The real face
Lonesome Rhodes was based on Elvis Presley, who represented all that was inherently corrupt to Schulberg. He saw the adulation for Elvis as dangereous and disgusting. As a matter of fact, "Elvis for President" buttons abounded in Elvis's early days. Woulda been interesting.
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