Craft III

film 2 of 3

A Face in the Crowd

Draft Review by Dean Duncan May 26, 2015

Starts with Kazan’s typical 50s formalist verité–grainy and hypercomposed, bravado performers alongside neo-realist faces–and ends with Network-like fableulous displacement, the big world where these bad behaviours are tempered and diffused turns into a media never-neverland, the point being that that’s what the media can/does become, the trouble being that the gullible boneheads look like they prefer it that way; strong performances and dialogue all over, Griffith’s braying, Neal’s intelligent and encounterable beauty, Matthau’s mournful insight (cf. What Makes Sammy Run, which seems to be the exact same story), Remick’s obscene oblivious sensuality–in fact, like Baby Doll the year before, this is one sex-ridden movie, Neal’s doorway surrender being an impressive case in point; what’s especially impressive is all the resonances, the oft invoked Will Rogers turns into a fascist demagogic Rush Limbaugh (just as vapid, just as adored, just as dangerous), the prefiguring of the Kennedy/Nixon rise of image politics, the Network-like exaggerations that aren’t so exaggerated after all, the Aguirre-like rise and mad, apocalyptic fall in the same surreal setting (monkeys instead of the applause meter); if Waterfront was an apology for snitching, this is a slap back at the xenophobes, and a restatement of the fearsome thesis that the fascists won the war after all (cf. Foreign Affair)