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Patricia Neal headlines 'Face in the Crowd' event; tickets still available

Sept. 6, 2007 --
Tickets are going fast for the event planned by the City of Piggott and the Arkansas State University Alumni Association to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the landmark movie, "A Face in the Crowd," which was filmed in Piggott and released in 1957. The anniversary event will be Saturday, Sept. 15, at the Piggott Community Center on Highway 49, Piggott, with the deadline to purchase tickets being next Tuesday, Sept. 11, by 5 p.m.

Academy Award-winning actress Patricia Neal, who starred in the movie, will be the guest of honor, along with noted film critic Dr. Foster Hirsch, author of 16 books about the movies. Both Ms. Neal and Dr. Hirsch will be featured speakers, and a special letter written for the event by the movie's writer, Budd Schulberg, will be shared with attendees.

Tickets are $25 per person, which includes the celebration banquet and a showing of the movies "A Face in the Crowd" and "In Harm's Way," both starring Patricia Neal. For tickets or more information, contact Piggott City Hall at 870-598-3791 or drop by City Hall at 194 West Court Street in Piggott.

The event begins at 11 a.m. with a screening of "In Harm's Way" followed by remarks from Dr. Hirsch, who has authored a book about that film's director, Otto Preminger. At 2:30, there will be a screening of "A Face in the Crowd." A celebration banquet with remarks by Patricia Neal and Foster Hirsch begins at 6:30 p.m.

In addition to using many local residents and ASU alumni as extras, "A Face in the Crowd" marked the screen debut of Andy Griffith and the late Lee Remick, along with providing the first major roles for the late actors Walter Matthau and Tony Franciosa. The film was written by author Budd Schulberg and directed by renowned director Elia Kazan, who had previously collaborated with Schulberg on the classic film "On the Waterfront." In "A Face in the Crowd," Andy Griffith's powerful performance was compared to legendary actors Marlon Brando and James Dean.

The movie depicts the rise and fall of a media star in 1950s America, showing the new medium of television’s power to make or break both performers and politicians. Response at the time was mixed, with a common criticism being that television could not possibly have an effect on a political campaign, and that politicians would not "lower" themselves to appear on TV. Three years later, the 1960 Kennedy-Nixon presidential debates decidedly changed the course of American political campaigns and proved the film's prediction to be correct. Today, 50 years later, the film is still powerful for its prophetic theme of the cult of celebrity, the power of the media, and the merging of entertainment and politics.

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