A Face in the Crowd starred Andy Griffith as Lonesome Rhodes, a hard drinking, boisterous, knockabout singer, and song writer, who was "discovered" in the drunk tank of a small town jail in Arkansas by Marcia Jeffries (Patricia Neal), a runner for a local morning radio show.
He became a popular feature on the radio show, and before we know it, an important sponsor wanted him in Nashville for a big TV show. He became a show biz success story, and Marcia was in love.
Supporters of a politician recruited him to enhance their candidate's chances for a big office. Rhodes had become a king maker. And poor Marcia got dumped in favor of a cute blond.
Then -- the hot mic.
A drunken Rhodes was doing his live TV show. They broke for a commercial, and Rhodes was all smiles, thinking he was off mic, as he cut loose with a diatribe about his audience and how he had those morons eating out of his hand. Marcia surreptitiously pushed up the control lever to release his words over the airways.
The TV show ended with Rhodes thinking he was on top of the world. The editing in the movie was superb as we watched the elevator indicator tick off the floors cut with scenes from random dinner tables where his fans were aghast at what they heard. By the time his elevator reached the ground floor, he was a has-been.
It was a pretty good movie. TCM brings this classic back during election season, and it was broadcast the other night. I suppose the Rhodes character is supposed to be Donald Trump this time -- it was broadcast before Trump's hot mic moment went public, so the timing was pretty good. But the first time I saw it was during the Bill Clinton administration, and the connection with a charismatic Arkansas hillbilly's rise to fame was unmistakable.
In any event, whichever politician one wants to place in the lead role, the movie's message is timeless.