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The Exiles
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The Exiles (1961) More at IMDbPro »

The Exiles -- Open-ended Trailer from Milestone Films


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Kent MacKenzie (writer)
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Release Date:
13 July 1961 (USA) See more »
Native Americans in Los Angeles. For 12 hours one Friday night, from late afternoon until dawn, we follow a handful of urban Indians... See more » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
1 win See more »
User Reviews:
Native Americans in LA think about their relations to each other See more (10 total) »


  (in credits order)

Directed by
Kent MacKenzie 
Writing credits
Kent MacKenzie (writer)

Produced by
Kent MacKenzie .... producer
Cinematography by
Erik Daarstad 
Robert Kaufman 
John Arthur Morrill 
Film Editing by
Warner Brown 
Sven Walnum (uncredited)
Camera and Electrical Department
Sven Walnum .... camera operator (uncredited)
Editorial Department
Sven Walnum .... assistant editor (uncredited)
Other crew
Mindaugus Bagdon .... additional crew
Stan Follis .... additional crew
Ron Honthaner .... additional crew
David MacDougall .... additional crew
Ken Nelson .... additional crew
Marvin Walowitz .... additional crew


Additional Details

Also Known As:
72 min
Sound Mix:

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Movie Connections:
References The Iron Sheriff (1957)See more »


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Native Americans in LA think about their relations to each other, 12 May 2015
Author: treywillwest

This was one of the first films to deal with the contemporary lives of Native Americans. It's still one of the very few pieces to deal with the Native urban diaspora, in this case in the no-longer existing LA neighborhood of Bunker Hill, in 1961.

More broadly, "Exiles" is a film about displacement, and finding oneself in a state of displacement, of having one's truest self be the displaced self. It focuses on a young, married couple who hardly see each other. The husband is out cavorting and fighting with other young quasi- hooligans. The wife is mostly alone, or abandoned at the cinema. The only scene where we sense that she is bonding with anybody is when she is in bed, in an officially asexual way, with a girlfriend.

As an empathetic depiction of the alienation that occurs when people are divorced from their (essentially extinct) culture, one cannot help but admire the film. Yet, I was left with the troubling sense that its depiction of characters driven to cling to each other based on the most basic similarities, such as tribe,race, and, perhaps most importantly in the eyes of the filmmakers, gender, was decidedly heteronormative. I wouldn't go so far as to call the film homophobic. The only brazenly gay characters, a couple of dudes dancing in a "straight" bar, are depicted in a neutral light. Yet, the isolation of man from woman, and "debauched" same-sex mingling are depicted as the prime symptoms of alienation under colonialism and capitalism. This attitude was all too common amid leftists in the era that the film was made.

For contemporary viewers, perhaps the most rewarding thing about The Exiles is its luscious black and white cinematography of the now destroyed Bunker Hill district of Los Angeles. As a documentary extra on the DVD further attests, Bunker Hill was a dynamic, multinational district that was home to immigrant families and retired professionals. Soon after this movie was completed, the neighborhood was bulldozed in an attempt to "improve" LA. In this way, the film seems like a depiction of two fallen cultures: the exiles of crushed Native American culture inhabiting an urban landscape that is itself now only a celluloid ghost.

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