A Face in the Crowd is a 1957 American drama film starring Andy Griffith (in his film debut), Patricia Neal and Walter Matthau, directed by Elia Kazan. The screenplay is by Budd Schulberg and is based on his short story “Your Arkansas Traveler”, from the collection Some Faces in the Crowd (1953).
The story centers on Larry “Lonesome” Rhodes, a drifter who is discovered by the producer (Neal) of a small-market radio program in rural northeast Arkansas. Rhodes ultimately rises to great fame and influence on national television. The character was inspired by Schulberg’s acquaintance with Will Rogers Jr. The successes of Arthur Godfrey and Tennessee Ernie Ford were also acknowledged in the screenplay.
The film launched Griffith into stardom but got mixed reviews upon its original release. Later decades have seen favorable reappraisals of the movie, and in 2008 it was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.