Because if you only knew Andy Griffith from the down-home Sheriff Andy Taylor he played on The Andy Griffith Show, then his performance in A Face in the Crowd will without a doubt shock the hell out of you.
This was Griffith's first film role. Directed by Elia Kazan from a screenplay by Budd Schulberg and released in 1957, A Face in the Crowd has Griffith as drunken Arkansas drifter "Lonesome" Rhodes: a no-good bum who becomes a media creation with fame, fortune and irredeemably rotten with power and corruption. Over time Rhodes comes to have influence over millions of people through the sway of television. And he is the most viciously mean bastard that you're ever likely to see in any motion picture in the history of anything. Also starring Patricia Neal, with appearances by Walter Matthau and Lee Remick, A Face in the Crowd has Andy so far removed from Mayberry that you'll be genuinely left wondering how in heck did he ever wind up with The Andy Griffith Show. Even so, in light of Griffith's passing early yesterday, it's a really nice tribute to his memory that TCM is doing by playing this movie. Highly recommended!