Today I’m Glued to TCM

by John O'Sullivan

It’s political-nerd day on Turner Classic Movies. Just finished — sorry — is the film of Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead with Gary Cooper, Patricia Neal, and Raymond Massey, who turns in a great performance as the newspaper tycoon Gail Wynand. It’s the oddest film imaginable — in which the characters make totally implausible speeches all the time — but it has the gripping and inescapable power of a nightmare. Just beginning is A Face in the Crowd, in which Andy Griffith plays a ruthless villain with a syrupy southern charm and a natural instinct for what plays on television. He begins as a guitar-picking nobody (in jail, actually) and goes on to become a sinister political force. Of course, since this is a left-wing movie (though a great one), he’s eventually brought down by the pointy-headed Ivy League liberals (and his own arrogance). But it’s a great ride while it lasts. Nothing in this film is meant to refer to real people or real events. Watch it for Andy Griffith’s great performance alone. Who woulda thunk he’d make such a wonderful villain?


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