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CELESTE HEADLEE, HOST:

If you're just joining us, this is WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Celeste Headlee. We've been asking filmmakers about the movies they watch over and over again, and we got this response from the Oscar-winning screenwriter of "Thelma & Louise."

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

CALLIE KHOURI: My name is Callie Khouri. I'm a writer, director, producer. The movie I've watched a million times is "A Face in the Crowd," directed by Elia Kazan, starring Andy Griffith and Patricia Neal.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

KHOURI: I first saw this movie, I guess I was in my early 20s. I'd never heard of it, and somebody told me about it, and I watched it and was just completely jaw-droppingly shocked at how current it was.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "A FACE IN THE CROWD")

ANDY GRIFFITH: (as Larry Rhodes) This is Ms. Marcia Jeffries.

PATRICIA NEAL: (as Marcia Jeffries) How do you do?

GRIFFITH: (as Larry Rhodes) My uncle owns the radio station here in town, KGRK.

KHOURI: The movie's about a guy who is a charismatic, no-good drunk.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "A FACE IN THE CROWD")

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: (as Character) Good morning, Mr. Rhodes. I'm from radio KGRK...

GRIFFITH: (as Larry Rhodes) Go away. Go away. Get out of here. I don't care if the president of the United States is here. A man can't get a little decent sleep in jail.

KHOURI: Character is Lonesome Rhodes. He's played by Andy Griffith. It was a film debut for him and quite an amazing one.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "A FACE IN THE CROWD")

GRIFFITH: (as Larry Rhodes) (Singing) If whiskey don't get us, then women must. And it looks like I'm never gonna cease my wondering.

KHOURI: And he manages to charm his way into the hearts of millions and millions of Americans by way of a radio show called A Face in the Crowd of which Patricia Neal is the producer. And she finds him in jail and is so captivated by his personality that she ends up helping him become a huge, huge star...

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "A FACE IN THE CROWD")

GRIFFITH: (as Larry Rhodes) Hi, you all.

KHOURI: ...loved by millions of people everywhere he goes and eventually reaches the top from which he falls idly.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "A FACE IN THE CROWD")

GRIFFITH: (as Larry Rhodes) It's dangerous, hard. You got to be a saint and stand off a power that little box can give you.

KHOURI: One of my favorite scenes - one of the scenes that I think is still so powerful is Patricia Neal is watching Andy Griffith as Lonesome Rhodes kind of denigrate his followers.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "A FACE IN THE CROWD")

GRIFFITH: (as Larry Rhodes) Are those morons out there?

KHOURI: And she can't stand it anymore. She can't stand to see the person that he's become. So she turns his mic back on and broadcasts what he's saying all across the nation.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "A FACE IN THE CROWD")

GRIFFITH: (as Larry Rhodes) Good night, you stupid idiots.

(LAUGHTER)

Good night, you miserable slobs.

KHOURI: And you see into the homes of all the people who see that they're being betrayed by their beloved Lonesome Rhodes.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "A FACE IN THE CROWD")

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: (as Character) He's a monster. I'm gonna call the station and give him a piece of my mind.

KHOURI: The thing that I love about the movie is that it shows that absolute power will always undo itself, and there's something about the feeling of goodness triumphing. And I think that's a really powerful, beautiful message and gives me hope.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "A FACE IN THE CROWD")

GRIFFITH: (as Larry Rhodes) (Singing) Ten thousand miles away from home...

HEADLEE: That's writer Callie Khouri talking about the movie she could watch a million times, Elia Kazan's "A Face in the Crowd." Khouri created the new ABC TV show "Nashville."

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "A FACE IN THE CROWD")

GRIFFITH: (as Larry Rhodes) (Singing) No, I ain't crying 'cause I'm gonna be a free man in the morning.

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