I didn’t really care for this as social satire. It doesn’t seem to have anything particularly new or insightful to say on that front. Plus, I didn’t really care for Andy Griffith’s performance all that much. But to me, the film is all about Marcia (Patricia Neal). She’s the heart and soul of the film. There’s really no explanation in the film itself for why Rhodes would be such an overnight sensation but I found myself buying into his charisma purely because of the way Neal looks at him with such adoration. While it fails for me in terms of all the social commentary, it totally works as a love story gone wrong.
Neal has such great moments in the film. The little cry she lets out when Griffith leaves her apartment after she confronts him about marrying Lee Remick could so easily feel histrionic but it’s so short and Kazan cuts away from it so quickly that it becomes all the more powerful. Even w.r.t. the point the film is making about the corrupting influence of fame / money, I was much more moved by what all of that did to her character. She too is seduced by it and I’m not sure her sense of guilt is entirely unwarranted. She’s great.