While the world mourns the death of that champion of misfits, John Hughes, we should also note the passing of On The Waterfront scribe, Budd Schulberg. I say “note,” which should not at all be confused with “mourn.” Schulberg did after all, under HUAC pressure, squeal on Bertolt Brecht, prompting the playwright’s unwanted return to Europe. Shameful politics aside, though, Schulberg was responsible for such edgy-for-its-time fare as Ben Stiller’s pipe-dream project, What Makes Sammy Run, and the screenplay for A Face In The Crowd. Of that film, which Slate‘s Troy Patterson calls “The Best Movie About Television You’ve Never Seen,”
Andy Griffith played Larry “Lonesome” Rhodes, a garrulous Arkansas hick who becomes a star of radio and television by laying on the down-home charm. The Mayberry-type charisma curdles once he goes on up to New York City and becomes a demagogue, something of a hybrid of Will Rogers, Glenn Beck, and Sweet Smell of Success’ J.J. Hunsecker.
The above clip features one of Griffith’s more unhinged moments. In it, Lonesome Larry shills, rockabilly-style, for “Vitajex,” a stimulant for men whose sole aim, it seems, is to “fill your gal with ‘oooh,’ and ecstasy!”
Slate: The Best Movie About Television You’ve Never Seen