Andy Griffith Opened Up About Early Film ‘Face in the Crowd’ Becoming a Cult Classic

by Allison Hambrick

Actor Andy Griffith once revealed his thoughts about one of his earliest films, Face in the Crowd, joining the ranks of cult classic films. In a 1991 appearance on The Tonight Show, the icon discussed his role in the 1957 film.

“Elia Kazan directed that picture, Budd Schulberg wrote it, and they thought it was going to be their best effort,” explained Griffith. “I was kinda hoping it would be, too. It wasn’t successful when it came out, but it’s a cult picture now.”

In the film, Griffith plays a comedian who catapults into stardom on national television. Unfortunately, his arrogance becomes his downfall when he becomes an increasingly worse person. The film also starred Patricia Neal, Anthony Franciosa, and Walter Matthau, among others. Despite mixed reviews, it is credited with launching Griffith’s career. Additionally, the United States National Film Registry selected Face in the Crowd for preservation.

Andy Griffith Talks Matlock‘s Unique Style

In the same interview, Griffith poked fun at his character Ben Matlock’s distinctive choice of clothing. The actor discussed how that style landed him on TV Guide’s “Worst Dressed List” and why he was initially confused with the magazine dropped.

“My wonderful wife – we were in North Carolina at our home when that TV Guide came out,” Griffith began. “And I saw it, and I looked at it – ’cause I knew I had to get that award. And I looked all through it, and I wasn’t in the list. So later on, my wife told me that she had torn that page out. I was kind of concerned about the show at that time, and she didn’t want me to be more concerned. But I love it. I mean, that’s the whole idea of that gray suit. Matlock looks awful in it, but he thinks he looks wonderful.”

Additionally, Griffith said that he enjoyed channeling that kind of confidence in the role. While Andy Taylor, was notoriously humble and kind, Matlock was more focused on appearances.

“Matlock is very bright, he’s very cheap, he’s very vain – all the things I am not,” Griffith explained. “I enjoyed that character a lot. I just found him, I don’t know, I just… let my imagination roam. I never worried about the law… Somebody else was there to look after the law part. I just wanted it to be entertaining within that framework. I got in a lot of fights with the judges, I got in a lot of fights with the prosecutor. Because it was funny.”

“See, I know that I’m a strange looking man and lost my figure a long time ago,” the actor joked. “But this character I play doesn’t know that. This guy thinks he’s the best-lookin’ man that ever walked.”