Ed Driscoll

Lonesome Barry

Victor Davis Hanson spots Our ‘Face in the Crowd:'”

Elia Kazan’s classic A Face in the Crowd is a good primer on Barack Obama’s rise and fall. Lonesome Rhodes arises out of nowhere in the 1957 film, romancing the nation as a phony populist who serially spins yarns in the most folksy ways — confident that he should never be held to account. Kazan’s point (in the film Rhodes is a patsy for conservative business interests) is that the “folks” are fickle and prefer to be charmed rather than informed and told the truth. Rhodes’s new first name, Lonesome, resonates in the film in a way that Barack does now. Finally, an open mic captures Rhodes’s true disdain for the people he champions, and his career crashes.

Read the whole thing; A Face in the Crowd resonates in other ways — Andy Griffith’s early star turn as the manic cornpone corporatist demagogue “Lonesome Rhodes” came full circle near the end of his life, as Kathy Shaidle noted in 2010:

Usually typecast as the lovable innocent backwoods boy, Andy Griffith shocked viewers with his portrayal of Roads, an amoral drifter with a gift for gab, boundless ambition and no redeeming qualities. (That’s a true Hollywood rarity, because viewers tend to appreciate villains as long as they are charming. Perhaps only Edward G. Robinson’s stupid, humorless, sadistic Scarface (1932) character comes close to Roads in terms of sheer incorrigibility.)

Now, Griffith is shocking some folks again, many years later: he’s become a shill for Obamacare.

FactCheck.org has already done the heavy lifting in terms of, well, fact checking the claims Griffith makes in this new PSA.

But oddly enough, Media Matters et al. aren’t making any Lonesome Roads references today, even though Griffith’s new ad is more like something from A Face in the Crowd than anything Glenn Beck’s ever uttered on the air. What a surprise.

Lonesome Rhodes was inspired by the hypocrisies of Will Rogers:

After having visited Italy and interviewed Mussolini in 1926, the American humorist Will Rogers, who was informally dubbed “Ambassador-at-Large of the United States” by the National Press Club, said of the fascist dictator: “I’m pretty high on that bird.” “Dictator form of government is the greatest form of government,” Rogers wrote, “that is, if you have the right dictator.”

Griffith, apparently a life-long Democrat, made the decision to go out as his Lonesome Rhodes character, rather than beneficent public servant Sheriff Andy Taylor. As they say at David Horowitz’s Front Page

Update: Actually, I would assume the 2010-version of Griffith would have been pretty cool with this proposed reboot of his beloved 1960s sitcom.