Director: Elia Kazan
Starring: Andy Griffith, Patricia Neal, Walter Matthau
Sometimes films need to be seen from a distance in order to be properly appreciated. Though it seems to be accepted as a masterpiece now (as it should be; it's one of Elia Kazan's best films and Elia Kazan was no stranger to greatness), A Face in the Crowd was tepidly received on its initial release in 1957. How that could be, how critics could dismiss this film as anything less than a major work, seems like a mystery now, but maybe it was just too far ahead of its time, too caustic, too hard edged. Watching it I was reminded very much of Network, a somewhat similarly themed film but one which had the good fortune to be released at exactly the right time to be seen for what it is: a work of absolute brilliance. A Face in the Crowd is like a precursor to that film, both stories in which a nation becomes captivated by men with a certain amount of madness and then watch as he's destroyed by the very medium that made him.