Monday, May 16, 2016

A Face in the Crowd (1957)

Thanks to the rise of Donald Trump, this film is on the minds of a lot of people. Lately I’ve heard a lot of people claiming that it’s time to add A Face in the Crowd to the continually growing list of films that were once considered satires, but are now defacto documentaries. But as ‘Becca’lise pointed out to me after our most recent viewing, regardless of how dark this film is, it is actually pretty optimistic. I’m not sure if Lonesome Rhodes' downfall was mandated by the production code or what, but the idea that a demagogue like that could be brought down by a few offhand remarks is actually wishful thinking. As we have seen over and over again with “The Donald”, shocking statements are not enough in today’s America. People decry our “Outrage Culture” and the ways that it can destroy lives over trivial faux pas, but it has somehow yet to put an end to that man’s candidacy. In fact, those outrageous statements have only made him stronger. Perhaps we should instead move this from the “satire” column to the “fantasy” column?


  1. A Face in the Crowd is a good film, and one that showcases the recurrence of demagogues in American politics (Trump is by no means the first, though he is one of the most successful).

    I don't think someone like Trump would have done well in the '50s. The culture was much more uniform at the time, which created a strong standard by which people were expected to behave. This had both good and bad elements.

    Currently, American culture is both more individualized and more polarized. People tend to flock around candidates whom they perceive (rightly or wrongly) as being authentic. For the politician, this often takes the shorthand method of vocally rejecting establishment policies.

    Because this is based much more heavily on emotion (and because the US is more divided), you just don't have the same standards of decorum. Hence, you get people like Trump.

    That's my long-winded explanation as to why A Face in the Crowd was probably fairly realistic in the context of its time, even if it comes off as optimistic today.

  2. The only chance of a Trump downfall is his pathetic and insecure desperation to be liked.