They called the 1950s the Age of Anxiety. The Red Scare was well over by mid-decade, but the Republic was by no means secure. It was during the epochal year of 1956 that Elia Kazan and Budd Schulberg collaborated on a warning—not about alien invaders or the threat of nuclear annihilation, but about the American media.
Or was it the American id? Directed by Kazan and adapted by Schulberg from his 1953 story “Your Arkansas Traveler,” A Face in the Crowd (1957) introduced a new menace not unrelated to the danger of juvenile delinquency, which had obsessed congressional committees and the popular press for the past few years. This peril was the tele‑demagogue: the mass-culture man, vulgarity made manifest, come to power in the person of itinerant guitar-picker Larry “Lonesome” Rhodes.
A priori criminal, Lonesome Rhodes (Andy Griffith) is introduced as a prisoner, locked up for vagrancy in an Arkansas county jail. A star is born when Lonesome is discovered by local radio reporter Marcia Jeffries (Patricia Neal). Having amusingly decided to broadcast her morning Face in the Crowd sequence from the local drunk tank, this well-bred Sarah Lawrence girl finds herself captivated, if not thrilled, by the expansive, perhaps dangerous, Lonesome personality, and after he graces her show with a spontaneous rendition of “(I’ll Be a) Free Man in the Morning,” she manages to make him a regular on her uncle’s radio station.
Thus enabled, Lonesome immediately demonstrates the influence of the medium on the suggestible, addressing his housewife listeners directly, mischievously intervening in the political life of their small Arkansas town. Before long, he’s graduated from local radio to TV variety shows, first in Memphis and then New York, and from mocking his sponsor’s commercials (anticipating by some decades a strategy associated with Howard Stern) to refurbishing the images of national candidates—just as Hollywood actor-director Robert Montgomery had coached Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952.
Performer, tribune, and member of the audience, ingenious enough to invent a “reaction machine” that approximates the effect of canned laughter, Rhodes is a focus group of one—as well as the personification of TV and, before the movie ends, a big-time threat to American democracy. A new program, Lonesome Rhodes’s Cracker Barrel, becomes a forum for manufacturing public opinion with Lonesome himself bruited as a potential cabinet officer, Secretary for National Morale. 1 Lasting from the Disneyland summer of 1955 through the 1956 presidential campaign, the production of A Face in the Crowd coincided with the apotheosis of TV frontiersman Davy Crockett; its creation was contemporaneous with Robert Frank’s revelatory photographs of jukebox America; it synthesized current enthusiasms and bugaboos ranging from Uncle Miltie, Tricky Dick, and the Reverend Billy Graham to the Actors Studio, Vance Packard’s Hidden Persuaders, and Norman Mailer’s “White Negro.”
A new spirit was abroad and it had coalesced in the figure of a charismatic hillbilly up from Memphis. Schulberg pleaded with a New Yorker reporter to not, “for God’s sake, identify [Lonesome Rhodes] with Elvis Presley,” but that’s exactly what Life did. How could they not? Lonesome was a “guitar-thumping demagogue” who inspired “scenes of frenzied bobby-soxers behaving like Presley fans.” Who else could this raucous hayseed be? 2
While American pundits were obsessed with the new “communicable disease” that was rock and roll, Elvis Presley enjoyed the most meteoric rise in the history of American showbiz and, along with Marilyn, Ike, and Davy Crockett, became a character in the national folklore. Competing variety shows used Elvis to boost their ratings; in 1956, this bizarre new creature made twelve appearances on network TV. Elvis brought rock and roll but he was produced by television—not simply a voice but also an image.
And yet, Lonesome Rhodes is something else, less than Elvis but also more. This entertainer is a force of nature—a vision of mass culture run amok, embodied by Griffith with a slaveringly avid ferocity that the thirty-one-year-old stand-up comedian turned actor would never again permit to break the practiced affability of his cornpone persona. “I became Lonesome Rhodes,” Griffith told an interviewer. “It was something bigger than I was . . . You play an egomaniac and paranoiac all day and it’s hard to turn it off by bedtime. [My wife and I] went through a nightmare—a real genuine nightmare for both of us.”
Nightmare is the operative word. A Face in the Crowd is essentially a political horror film—not funny enough to work as satire, a bit doggedly literal for allegory, yet too hyperbolic to convince as drama. The alleged popularity of Lonesome’s bleatings—written by Schulberg with folksinger Tom Glazer—is a mortal insult to the taste of the American people. But then so is the movie, which may be one reason why it was not a popular success. The production cost $1.75 million and, by 1960, had only earned back $1.3 million. (And there were no Oscar nominations.)
A Face in the Crowd was neither a hit nor a great movie, not even really a prophecy. (Samuel Fuller’s China Gate, which also opened in May 1957, qualifies as the year’s most prescient film—set in French Indochina and introducing Ho Chi Minh as the man who might bring American to its knees.) As political rhetoric, however, A Face in the Crowd has never ceased to be relevant.
Darkly alluded to during the 1960 campaign (decided, so people thought, by a television debate), A Face in the Crowd was quasi-remade as Wild in the Streets, American International’s contribution to the madness of 1968, in which a sleazy liberal running for senator releases the genie from the bottle in the person of the twenty-two-year-old rock star he’s recruited to help. Re-released (with a nod to George Wallace) in 1972, A Face in the Crowd was invoked in 1974 to explain Watergate and reconfigured in 1975 as Nashville. In the 1980s, Kazan began saying that he and Schulberg had made a movie about Ronald Reagan at a time when the future president was still shilling for General Electric.
Although Reagan’s election might have rendered A Face in the Crowd passé, the idea of a bona fide remake was floated throughout his presidency, with figures as disparate as Barry Gibb, Burt Reynolds, Don Johnson, and Eric Bogosian variously considered for the role of Lonesome Rhodes. Post-Reagan, the movie remained no less potent. It takes no great stretch of the imagination to see Ross Perot as a Lonesome Rhodes knockoff and only a mild sense of tabloid melodrama to appreciate Hillary playing Patricia Neal to Bill’s Andy Griffith (and now vice versa). To watch our current president work a preselected crowd is to be reminded of Lonesome’s down-home delivery, and A Face in the Crowd can be made to apply to the media-manufactured candidacy and TV-honed persona of a recent hopeful such as former senator Fred Thompson.
The fact is that A Face in the Crowd is not about any one person so much as a particular system—namely the logic governing what, writing mid–World War II, Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer unsympathetically termed the “culture industry” (and what has since been named the National Entertainment State). The movie’s real kick, as film scholar Leonard Quart noted after the 1988 presidential election, is the scene where Lonesome shows a prissy Eastern senator with presidential ambitions how to smile and comb his hair, instructing him on the need for a nickname and a hound dog.
An excuse for Griffith’s clowning in 1957, this bit only came into its own when Roger Ailes and Lee Atwater made over George H. W. Bush by teaching him to talk tough, eat pork rinds, swear by Hee Haw, and use ads claiming “it’s the president who defines the character of America . . . the heart, the soul, the conscience of the nation.”
A Face in the Crowd would be Kazan and Schulberg’s spiritual sequel to On the Waterfront (1954); it was made, like Baby Doll (1956), by Newtown Productions, the independent production company that On the Waterfront enabled Kazan to establish, and it would be the last.
But where the dark comedy Baby Doll—which, along with Tennessee Williams’s version of a Deep South Lolita, featured (for almost the first time) real rock and roll on its soundtrack and was condemned by the Catholic Church—was part of the mass-culture “problem,” A Face in the Crowd was conceived as a contribution toward a solution. Kazan and Schulberg began discussing the project during the spring of 1955. That summer, framed by Senator Estes Kefauver’s hearings on juvenile delinquency and the huge popularity of The $64,000 Question, the two men would venture down from Connecticut to hang out at Madison Avenue ad agencies and soak up their ambiance.
Schulberg started work on the script in the fall, while Kazan was shooting Baby Doll on location in Benoit, Mississippi. It was the season that, addressing the American Booksellers Association convention, Hollywood producer Walter Wanger eagerly explained that his new, still-unreleased picture Invasion of the Body Snatchers would show “how easy it is for people to be taken over and to lose their souls if they are not alert and determined in their character to be free.” The threat was no longer Communism but conformity. After Baby Doll wrapped in early 1956, Schulberg and Kazan traveled to Washington, DC, where they interviewed several senators, including Stuart Symington of Missouri and Lyndon Johnson of Texas (both Democrats with presidential ambitions). Johnson, Kazan remembered, seemed particularly impressed that “Hollywood people were talking to him.”
The Face in the Crowd shoot opened August 13 in Piggott, Arkansas (where Kazan gave the town treasury $8,700 to complete a swimming pool begun twenty-one years before by the Works Progress Administration). During the ten days that the filmmakers were on location, the Democrats and the Republicans held their national conventions. The viewership was projected at 120 million (“largest mass audience in the history of man,” per one TV columnist). Los Angeles appliance stores advertised “convention specials” on new TVs. Walt Disney dispatched a pair of teenaged Mouseketeers on behalf of The Mickey Mouse Club.
The Los Angeles Times ran stories explaining how Republican women were expected to dress for the TV cameras and why the exigencies of a national broadcast and the realities of prime time caused the San Francisco sessions to be scheduled for midafternoon; the paper also noted that, in nominating the absent Dwight D. Eisenhower, Representative Charles Halleck addressed the president directly, explaining that Ike was watching the convention on television. Time, meanwhile, covered the conventions in terms of their TV coverage, complete with negative reviews.
This had all been anticipated. Former adman John G. Schneider’s comic novel The Golden Kazoo, published in January 1956, imagined the 1960 presidential campaign as completely dominated by advertising agencies, with the candidates as “products” sold to TV viewers on the basis of their looks and one-liners. The New York Times praised the book as “a way station on the road to George Orwell’s 1984.” Adlai Stevenson, who had been criticized by his rivals as lacking a “Presidential image,” incorporated Schneider’s critique into his acceptance speech:
The men who run the Eisenhower administration evidently believe that the minds of Americans can be manipulated by shows, slogans and the arts of advertising. . . . This idea that you can merchandise candidates for high office like breakfast cereal—that you can gather votes like box tops—is, I think, the ultimate indignity to the democratic process.
In The Hidden Persuaders (1957), Vance Packard described the Republican convention at the Cow Palace in San Francisco as a demonstration of the new political spectacle. As with A Face in the Crowd, advertising and show business ruled. “Even the ministers in their opening and closing intonations (over TV) worked in key GOP slogans.” What’s more, the convention was a professional job, produced by George Murphy, a Hollywood actor who also served as MGM’s public-relations director (and would be elected California senator in 1964).
Mr. Murphy seemed to regard all the delegates as actors in his super spectacular pageant. Wearing dark glasses, he stood a few feet back of the rostrum. Reporters noted him making the professional gestures for fanfare, stretch-out, and fade. Delegates took their cues right along with the orchestra.
Murphy (whom the Los Angeles Times called the convention’s “busiest man . . . a combination of Cecil B. DeMille and a paper hanger with the hives”) even used entertainment as a source of control. He needed only to flick his hand, Time observed, to produce “singers of all shapes and sizes,” and he routinely deployed Young Republicans to cut capers in the aisles and thus force delegates into their seats. 3
A cartoon in the Soviet humor magazine Krokodil visualized the 1956 presidential campaign as two rival theatrical shows (“the actors are different but the program is the same: cold war, arms race, positions of strength”), and, Stevenson’s critique notwithstanding, the Democratic Convention in Chicago also had an “entertainment director,” namely Murphy’s nominal boss, MGM production chief Dore Schary. As a result, Packard reported, Schary “got himself in trouble with influential MGM stockholders of Republican persuasion.” Whether or not this contributed to his termination in December 1956, a month after the election, Schary did take credit for helping introduce the Democrat’s next star.
At the suggestion of TV newsman Edward R. Murrow, Schary recruited Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts to narrate the Democrat’s keynote film, The Pursuit of Happiness. (CBS’s failure to telecast this twenty-eight-minute celebration of past Democratic presidents precipitated one of the convention’s major controversies.) The thirty-nine-year-old Kennedy was subsequently put forth as a candidate for vice president, and although he lost out to Estes Kefauver, the handsome young senator was tabbed as a political Elvis—the front-runner for the 1960 nomination. Another face in the crowd . . . Such was the process known as Lonesome Rhodes. 4
Like The Hidden Persuaders or The Golden Kazoo, A Face in the Crowd was an early attempt to represent that system in which television brings everything together—politics, news, and entertainment—in the democracy of the market.
Advertising was key—not so much synonymous with publicity as with brainwashing. “We got the feeling that people were manipulating in the crudest way, with humor and whatever you want to call it, [other] people’s thinking,” Kazan recalled years later. Thanks to Madison Avenue, people were “being made to think in a way they wouldn’t ordinarily think.”
Hollywood had never blamed itself for such chicanery, but Kazan’s sentiments would scarcely have been out of place at the Beverly Hills Hotel where in July 1947, a decade before A Face in the Crowd opened, the Progressive Citizens of America organized a conference on “Thought Control in the USA.” Virtually the last hurrah of the Hollywood left, this conclave marks the moment at which the industry’s progressives (or “cultural workers”) began to reverse themselves on the product they produced, turning away from wartime bromides to take a position closer to the Adorno-Horkheimer line (as well as that of the former Trotskyist, future neocon intellectuals of Partisan Review). Mass culture was a form of incipient fascism.
The critique became increasingly common among left and liberal intellectuals once Popular Front sentimentality was demobilized (and the sentimentalists were purged from Hollywood). Suddenly the inherent danger of horror comics, rock and roll, Mickey Spillane novels, and TV became the issue of the day. Writing in Dissent in 1956, Henry Rabassiere mockingly noted that “the newest fashion in mass culture is to scorn mass culture”—at least among “ultra-left” snobs. A Face in the Crowd was written and directed by two former Communists and recent friendly witnesses before the House Un‑American Activities Committee. And so, for all its topicality, the movie had its origins in the worldview of the thirties and forties left. 5
A Face in the Crowd is a dialectical corrective to the Popular Front mentality. On one hand, the movie can be easily construed as mocking the liberal flirtation with vulgar Marxism, with Lonesome Rhodes as a class-conscious, folksong-singing exemplar of the Common Man. (Lonesome’s instincts aren’t all bad. He’s naturally inclined to ridicule authority and is an equal opportunity exploiter—given his own TV show in Memphis, he demonstrates his populism through immediate, if token, racial integration.) No wonder the college girl Marcia is intrigued, even after she discovers that this hobo bard is as cynical as the Hollywood version of a CP apparatchik.
But old habits die hard, and so even if A Face in the Crowd parodies college-educated fellow travelers, it is, on the other hand, a generic antifascist scare film—albeit dramatizing, in a suitably popular form, everybody’s worst fears regarding the American culture industry. (It’s hard to know whether Adorno and Horkheimer would have felt horrified or vindicated by the televised image of Lonesome’s seventeen-year-old bride twirling her batons to Beethoven.)
As a true American, Lonesome is always singing about freedom—even as he comes to stand for something else. Kazan and Schulberg have the movie’s resident intellectual, writer Mel Miller (Walter Matthau), label the picture of Rhodes that he and his colleagues are using for impotent target practice with the title of Erich Fromm’s then-popular analysis of the mass mind, Escape from Freedom (1941). Moreover, Lonesome is a particular type. As a megalomaniacal, power-mad opportunist, he has a family resemblance to Schulberg’s most famous creation, the ferocious Hollywood careerist Sammy Glick (of What Makes Sammy Run?), as well as to Willie Stark, the charismatic self-described “hick” demagogue of Robert Penn Warren’s All the King’s Men. 6
Stark is a native Mussolini who makes himself virtual dictator of a deep-southern state before being gunned down in the lobby of a public works skyscraper. Glick, too, is specifically identified with European fascism. As a Communist, Schulberg was concerned with universalizing his protagonist. He not only portrays Glick’s character flaws as the result of his miserable childhood in the slums of the Lower East Side but also equates Glick’s capacity for amoral manipulation with Hitler’s, as when a politically conscious screenwriter comments on Sammy’s shameless credit-grabbing: “Adolf and Benito have been doing it for years and look where those boys are. What a marvelous pair of Hollywood phonies they’d be! Can’t you just see them taking over a story conference?”
In 1957, the devil whom Lonesome Rhodes most obviously, if indirectly, evoked was the greatest demagogue of them all. Like the kindred showbiz allegories, José Ferrer’s The Great Man, which opened less than six months before A Face in the Crowd, and Alexander Mackendrick’s Sweet Smell of Success, which opened a month later, Kazan and Schulberg’s movie is an example of crypto-anti-McCarthyism that, appearing three years after the demagogue’s fall, reeks of self-disgust. 7
Whether or not Kazan suffered pangs for having cooperated, in 1952, with the House Un‑American Activities Committee, he could hardly have failed to notice that, called upon to testify before the same Committee in late June 1956, his former soul mate Arthur Miller acquitted himself with courage and dignity—and, days later, married a former Kazan fling Marilyn Monroe. The playwright is acknowledged in A Face in the Crowd as earnest, pipe-smoking Mel Miller, who early recognizes Lonesome’s danger but, for all that, never supplants the libidinal minstrel man in Marcia’s heart, let alone her bed. 8
A Face in the Crowd grows increasingly apocalyptic. Lonesome seems on the verge of running for office himself when his jilted mistress, Marcia, destroys his career by opening a mike so that the American people can hear the true nature of the monster they’ve embraced. Drunk with power, as well as liquor, Rhodes makes a historic gaffe, referring to his fans as “morons” and describing the public as “a cage full of guinea pigs . . . Good night, you stupid idiots, good night, you miserable slobs. They’re a lot of trained seals—I toss them a dead fish and they’ll flap their flippers.”
Of course, the audience flips its flapper. In montage, irate listeners call the station in revulsion. Lonesome is through before his elevator reaches the lobby. In the end, Mel Miller unconvincingly suggests, people ultimately “get wise” to demagogues: We—or rather They—the People.
A Face in the Crowd was something of a sensation, at least with the New York critics. Or, rather, with a few of them. The movie was hailed in The Nation as “the 1984 of Madison Avenue.” New York Times critic Bosley Crowther termed it a “sizzling and cynical” piece of work: “Mr. Schulberg has penned a powerful person of the raw, vulgar, roughneck, cornball breed and Mr. Griffith plays him with thunderous vigor.”
Shrewdly equating the filmmakers with Marcia, Crowther saw Kazan and Schulberg as men who created a Frankenstein’s monster and then fell under its spell. “So hypnotized are they by [Griffith’s] presence that he runs away not only with the show but with intellectual reason and with the potentiality of their theme.” Time, which panned the movie as hysterical and obvious, made the same point, concluding its review by wondering if Kazan, “like the villain of his piece, has not somehow mistaken his public for a bunch of ‘stupid slobs.’”
The most enthusiastic review, one quoted at length by Kazan in his memoir, ran in the Communist Party daily People’s World.
When two stool pigeon witnesses before the Un-American Committee conspire to produce one of the finest progressive films we have seen in years, something more than oversimplification of motives is needed to explain it. [Schulberg and Kazan] did not hesitate to betray what both believed in before the witch-hunting House Committee. But they must have learned something during their days in the progressive movement and motion picture audiences will be the beneficiaries. . . . [A Face in the Crowd] will help educate the film audience into an understanding of how public opinion is manipulated in the U.S. and for what purpose. Whether it is the residual understanding Schulberg and Kazan retain from their days in the progressive movement, or whether it is a guilty conscience (or both) that has prompted them to give us this picture, we should be grateful for what they have done. 9
The Berlin Wall fell not long after Ronald Reagan left the White House. By then, for many commentators, the Cold War had evolved into a struggle between Communism and Television (or American mass culture). Kazan and Schulberg may have publicly repudiated their youthful politics, but the attitude so forcefully expressed in A Face in the Crowd still placed them on the losing side of history.
The position looks back to the 1934 New Deal musical Stand Up and Cheer, in which President Roosevelt appoints Lawrence Cromwell (Warner Baxter) to be Secretary of Amusement, and ahead to Ronald Reagan, who served as his own Secretary for National Morale. ↩
The Presley vehicle Jailhouse Rock, a more benign version of A Face in the Crowd, was released in November 1957. Among the many Lonesome Rhodes prototypes is the manic Memphis disc jockey, Dewey Phillips, who first played Elvis’s first commercial recordings, not knowing if the singer was black or white.
Not everyone was impressed. Time blamed Murphy for the show’s “doldrums,” reporting that the “ex-Hoofer” had issued an “‘Urgent Message’ to all delegates:
The size of the TV audience proved disappointing. While some 32 million families (or 85 percent of all TV homes) tuned in for part of the show, less than a third watched most of it. The networks, which had preempted their regular programs, lost money, and sponsors began to rethink their commitment to campaign coverage. The Nation commissioned John G. Schneider to provide a postmortem. Terming the race a “show-biz flop,” he wrote, “I can’t recall a national advertising campaign which was so poorly conceived, so badly written, so clumsily managed and produced, so misdirected and so dishonest as the political campaign of 1956. Maybe if we get some smart, amoral, know-how boys into the act, we’ll get a better show in 1960.” ↩
Kazan and Schulberg’s On the Waterfront is deeply evocative of Depression-era left-wing theater. Marlon Brando’s Terry Malloy is a sort of brute yet vulnerable animal trembling on the brink of consciousness. (In class terms, he embodies what Harold Rosenberg once called “the pathos of the proletariat.”) It takes no great familiarity with Popular Front rhetoric to recognize Malden’s waterfront priest as a crypto-Communist labor organizer or at least a two-fisted improvement on the antifascist priest in Roberto Rossellini’s Open City (1945); one can easily imagine Depression-era slum-goddess Sylvia Sidney in the role played by Eva Marie Saint. Working from a prizewinning piece of journalistic muckraking and the 1952 New York State Crime Commission hearings, Schulberg, who replaced Kazan’s erstwhile scenarist Arthur Miller, came up with the best screenplay that Clifford Odets never wrote. According to Schulberg, the part of Terry wasn’t conceived for Brando but for Pop Front icon John Garfield, who died before the movie was made but had his own screen apotheosis in an earlier, no less primal tale of brother-against-brother corruption in the urban jungle, Abraham Polonsky’s 1948 Force of Evil. ↩
In Forerunners of American Fascism (1935), Raymond Gram Swing described Louisiana governor and senator Huey Long, Penn Warren’s model for Stark, as “the hillbilly come into power, with the crudity of the hillbilly and his native shrewdness multiplied tenfold,” a description that perfectly fits Lonesome Rhodes. ↩
Ferrer, who played Sammy Glick in a 1949 television version of Schulberg’s novel, had been a fearful HUAC witness; so were Clifford Odets, who co-wrote Sweet Smell, and Harold Hecht, the movie’s co-producer. Both were former Communists. (Sidney Lumet’s 1958 live television version of All the King’s Men features B‑movie heavy Neville Brand as a Willie Stark whose brutish persona is also suggestive of Senator McCarthy.) Kazan and Schulberg were understandably obsessed with McCarthyism. On the Waterfront, which begins with its hero, Terry, fingering a courageous stoolie, is also—quite famously—the first movie that Kazan directed after appearing before the House Un‑American Activities Committee to ritually identify his former Communist Party comrades. Never mind that Terry’s heroic testimony against the gangsters who control his union is nothing like Kazan’s opportunistic naming of names—On the Waterfront unavoidably evokes the director’s potent mixture of guilt and self-justification. Kazan’s HUAC performance fueled this movie as it did the five subsequent features on which his reputation rests: East of Eden, Baby Doll, A Face in the Crowd, Wild River, and Splendor in the Grass. All are films about betrayal. (By the time he wrapped the last in 1961, the blacklist had been broken.) ↩
What Makes Sammy Run? (1941) has a comparable romantic triangle, as does All the King’s Men (1946). The novels’ narrators are serious men like Mel Miller, each in love with a smart, classy woman who despite her contempt for the charismatic villain, is fascinated by his energy and becomes sexually involved with him. ↩
Kazan not only quoted the People’s World review in his memoir but even reinforced it with a review from the red-baiting information sheet Counterattack that made the same point. His dismissal of these notices as equally stupid hardly conceals his perverse pride in having been recognized as a true leftist. ↩
Schulberg would maintain that the story “Your Arkansas Traveler” was inspired by a conversation he had with Will Rogers Jr. The comedian’s son considered his father to be a hypocritical phony who posed as “one of the people” but preferred to hobnob with bankers and power brokers: “Those were his friends . . . he [was] really a goddamned reactionary.” Kazan’s biographer, Richard Schickel, believes that the model was the “ukelele-strumming hick” Arthur Godfrey, host of a popular music and talk radio show in Washington. Schickel writes that Godfrey came to a larger public’s attention with his tearful coverage of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s funeral on CBS. This he had parlayed into a national radio show, then TV talent scout and variety programs, growing increasingly tyrannical with his supporting cast, increasingly forward with his political opinions until, a few years after [A Face in the Crowd], his career flamed out. ↩
‘Keep your mind on the TV camera, because the TV camera may be on you.’ Apparently Stage Manager Murphy told everybody everything except what to say. Commented Murphy: ‘Someday I’m going to run a convention the right way, with a trap door right under the speakers.’” ↩