His career and contribution to television is inarguable. His appearing in movies, which does not compare with this television roles and the cultural impact those had, were never really equated with much success either critically or at the box-office. Except for one: his leading role in Elia Kazan’s 1957 “Faces in the Crowd.”
Andy Griffith, who just died at age 86, generally played the quintessential folksy, no nonsense, tough but compassionate character. The two television series he is mostly known for, “The Andy Griffith Show” and “Matlock” are two of the most successful in television history. His movie career, however, remained tepid despite several attempts to set it on a faster track until “Face,” the story of a small-town nobody who becomes well-known first on radio and then television, a singer and charismatic personality finally exposed as a manipulative fraud. In giving Griffith the role of the drifter who uses his new celebrity only as a stepping stone to political power, Kazan illustrated his perception of a more complex and perhaps darker side to the wholesome actor. The DVD came out in 2005 and, in 2008, the film was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.
The correct film title is “A Face in the Crowd.”