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Rural Mississippi in the 1940s: Lucas Beauchamp, a local black man with a reputation of not kowtowing to whites, is found standing over the body of a dead white man, holding a pistol that has recently been fired. Quickly arrested for murder and jailed, Beauchamp insists he's innocent and asks the town's most prominent lawyer, Gavin Stevens, to defend him, but Stevens refuses. When a local boy whom Beauchamp has helped in the past and who believes him to be innocent hears talk of a mob taking Beauchamp out of jail and lynching him, he pleads with Stevens to defend Beauchamp at trial and prove his innocence. Written by
An unjustly neglected classic, "Intruder in the Dust" is one of the great films of the 1940's which has unfortunately slipped into obscurity. Based on a story by William Faulker, and shot in his hometown of Oxford, Mississippi, "Intruder" tells the story of Lucas Beauchamp (played with great dignity by Juano Hernandez), a black man unjustly accused of the murder of a local white man, and a white boy (Claude Jarman, Jr.) who uses this situation as an opportunity to pay a previous debt to Beauchamp. Terrific acting, especially by two great character actors, Porter Hall (as the dead man's father) and Elizabeth Patterson (best known as Mrs. Trumbull on "I Love Lucy") as an old woman willing to stand against the townspeople to see that right is done. This straightforward, tense and sincere study of racial bigotry deserves to be seen more.
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