UPDATED: Andy Griffith gave the greatest performance of his career the first time he ever stepped in front of a film camera. In fact his portrayal of country bumpkin-turned rabidly ambitious and menacing media force in Elia Kazan’s 1957 masterpiece A Face In The Crowd is not only one of the great screen performances of that decade, but just about any other decade too. It’s almost criminal more people have not seen this film, a flop in its time but a hugely influential movie in the intervening years. Paddy Chayefsky’s brilliant Oscar-winning satire Network is often cited as being way ahead of its time in predicting the future power of the media. If that’s the case then A Face In The Crowd, which represented the re-teaming of Kazan and his On The Waterfront screenwriter Budd Schulberg, was about 20 years ahead of Network.
Related: R.I.P. Andy Griffith
Griffith, who died today at the age of 86, was simply brilliant playing this country nobody who in his ability to relate to the regular folks turns into a huge media star, but a fake one with an ice-cold inner being who uses his newfound celebrity status as an unbridled grab for power behind the mike. “The whole country’s just like my flock of sheep….I’m not just an entertainer. I’m an influence, a wielder of opinion, a force…a force!,” said Lonsome Rhoades. “Rednecks, crackers, hillbillies, … Read More »
UPDATE: TV Land just announced that it has scheduled marathon programming blocks of The Andy Griffith Show from 8 AM-1 PM tomorrow and from 11 AM-8 PM on Saturday and Sunday. The show has been a staple on the network for years and even dedicated a statue to Griffith in Raleigh, North Carolina.
PREVIOUS, 8:59 AM: Turner Classic Movies will show four Andy Griffith films on July 18 as a tribute to the actor, who died Tuesday at age 86. The network will remember his life and career with the Elia Kazan-directed A Face In The Crowd (1957) at 8 PM ET, followed by No Time For Sargeants (1958) at 10:15, Hearts Of The West (1975) at 12:30, and Onionhead (1958) at 2:15.
Related: EXCLUSIVE: Ron Howard On Andy Griffith
UPDATE to include Ron Howard’s reaction: North Carolina’s WITN News is reporting that legendary TV and movie actor, director, producer, singer, and writer Andy Griffith died this morning in his Dare County home, according to former University of North Carolina President Bill Friday and a close friend of the actor. Griffith was 86. The native of Mount Airy, North Carolina, lived on Roanoke Island. He gained prominence in the starring role in director Elia Kazan’s epic film, A Face In The Crowd (1957) before he became better known for his television roles as the folksy Southerner who was the sheriff or lawyer people always wanted and the father figure people rarely had. Griffith was a regular on The Ed Sullivan Show in the 1950s and then earned the title as “America’s Favorite Sheriff” on The Andy Griffith Show set in fictional Mayberry. The hit show ran from 1960-1968 propelling a handful of spin-off programs and launched the child acting career of prominent Hollywood director Ron Howard. New generations were introduced to the series through TV Land, which even dedicated a statue to the series in Raleigh, NC. Griffith also produced and starred in the 1986-1996 television legal series Matlock. He made acting look easy but in fact he was a consumate professional widely liked by the Hollywood community. Griffith also became a Grammy Award-winning Southern gospel singer. Later in life, and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005 … Read More »