It’s natural to think that someone at TCM is winking at the viewing public by programming the 1957 film A Face in the Crowd, which eerily foretells the political rise of President-elect Donald Trump, to coincide with Inauguration Day. But per an EW report, a spokesperson for the channel has confirmed that the film was slotted into TCM’s Jan. 20 schedule long ago to honor the birthday of late actress Patricia Neal, who plays a radio reporter in the film. Several other Neal films are also being broadcast that day.
A few years ago in The Guardian, A Face in the Crowd screenwriter Budd Schulberg recalled the Madison Avenue research process that he engaged in with director Elia Kazan:
We spent months sitting in on meetings of leading advertising agencies, and even went to Washington to discuss the impact of the new medium [of television] with presidential candidates Stuart Symington, Al Gore Sr. and Lyndon Johnson. The senators were taking this so seriously that they set up a TV studio in the basement of the old Senate office building to practice their new wares.
And LBJ confessed to us that: “You have to watch your eyes now. That TV camera is right in your face. We never had to face that kind of challenge before. For instance, if you don’t hold your eyes steady, people will say, ‘He’s shifty.'” No way was shifty LBJ going to be caught looking shifty.
Most of A Face in the Crowd was shot at Biograph Studios in the Bronx, which remained active until the 1970s. A pivotal plot point involves Andy Griffith’s character Larry “Lonesome” Rhodes being undone when some shocking hot-mic comments are broadcast to the world. Six decades later, a similar scenario failed to stop the rise of DJT.
Schulberg shared those thoughts in The Guardian in March 2009. He passed away just five months later.
H/T: Robert Lloyd