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After years of debate, the courts have finally ordered the
desegregation of the nation's schools. A small (and fictitious)
Missouri town must deal with the issue as black students go to
the previously all white school for the first time.
Enter Adam Cramer (Shatner), a representative from Washington of the Patrick Henry Society. He claims to be a social worker, but it turns out that this society is a racist organization opposed to desegregation. Cramer hopes to interfere with the court-ordered policy and begins to stir up the community with fiery rhetoric and bold tactics. Cramer soon discovers that the mob he has helped create is beyond is ability to control.
"The Intruder" is a little known film written by Charles Beaumont (a core writer for "The Twilight Zone" and a screenwriter for many of American International's classic 1960s horror films) and directed by Roger Corman. It shouldn't be little known. This is arguably the best and most important film ever made by Corman and perhaps by Beaumont as well. Shatner puts in a sterling performance as the racist Cramer and the supporting cast, which included both veteran actors and local citizens from the town of Charleston, Missouri (where it was filmed), is also excellent. Corman and Beaumont took on some seriously volatile subject matter and used both tact and intelligence to tell a story and send a message. For those who are more sensitive to racist language or who are caught up with political correctness, "The Intruder" might be somewhat abrasive or uncomfortable to watch. Personally, I think that this would be ideal for viewing in high schools and colleges that are studying the subject of racism and integration in the United States. Regardless, for those seeking a well made, well acted film
Roger Corman's "The Intruder" is both fascinating and frustrating to
watch. Fascinating because you suddenly realize what a great and
promising "serious" film-maker that was living in the young Corman, and
frustrating because the movie was so provocative it scared Corman's
investors and was such a financial failure that it discouraged the
producer/director from ever trying to make a real serious piece of
"The Intruder" is so harrowing, frightfully realistic and effective that had it gained the success and attention it deserved Corman today would be up there with names like Norman Jewison, Sidney Lumet, Milos Forman, John Schlesinger and other great film-makers of his generation!
The atmospheric use of real southern locations just adds to the drama, and the racism portrayed by many of the actors feels almost to close to comfort. One final note: Anyone who still considers William Shatner a grade-b actor should also try and get a hold of this film to witness a fine actor in good form.
Watch this if you can, one of the greatest unsung movies of the 1960's!
As a white Northerner at 15, I had no idea in 1960 of what rude realities
awaited me as I hitchhiked through the South that summer. In Birmingham I
was thrown into the two worlds of black/white; I was escorted out of the
black's bathroom at the bus station, kindly - gently - but firmly. I
witnessed prayer-sayers at street corners extolling salvation and gateways
leading away from oppression, people coerced to sit in the crowded back of
the bus... whites throwing epitaphs at anyone black who happened to pass
By the time I reached New Orleans, I had had a complete education in
prejudice and hate. I was stunned.
So forty years later I watched the Intruder. It left me cold and I begin remembering that trip to the South so long ago. Sitting here in my easy chair in South Carolina today, I can say that some things have changed and some things haven't.
The movie, at least from my experience, presents a milieu that is faithfully true of the South in the early '60's. Of course, it descends from that point into the murky depths of the manipulation of fear and hatred within the human spirit. It is a raw, dramatic expose - hard to watch at times. And I can't respect enough that this movie is so cutting edge and so truly represents the attitudes and motivations of folks during those days.
For the adventurer who has a curiosity of how life was in that period, and for the psychology buff who is interested in the roots of human nature, this movie is a must.
I first took interest in searching this film out after reading brief
descriptions of the plot in film magazines such as Filmfax, if for no
other reason than to witness a strange and lost acting performance by a
young William Shatner. William Shatner, Captain Kirk himself, an
otherwise ridiculed actor infamous for his choppy delivery and over the
top hamminess, playing a white supremicist?! Produced and directed by
Roger Corman?! The description was too good to be true, and after
locating the recently released DVD I was prepared to view some fun,
campy, unintentional low budget laugh-riot. What a got was much much
This is easily the finest film Roger Corman's ever made, not to mention
the finest acting performance of William Shatner's career. Anyone who
makes fun of Shatner's acting ability should see this film, not to
mention most of his early-pre Trek performances in the Twilight Zone and
other early television roles. The man's a superb actor! The film is jaw
droppingly shocking and daring, especially when you consider that it was
released in 1961. No doubt segregation was a touchy topic at the time,
but few directors would have had the balls to release this film, and it
took a maverick like Corman to do it. There's no sugar coating of the
subject of racism here, this is hard raw drama that pulls no punches
with a superb script by Charles Beaumont. The dialogue is powerful and
biting, with racial slurs sprinkled throughout and the violence and
imposing threat are portrayed in a realistic and frightening manner.
Unfortunately, while society has arguably come a long way since 1961,
our "political correctness" of late has so homogenized our acceptance of
challenging subject matter that we try to sweep it under the rug and
pretend it never happened instead. Given the power of this film, it's no
wonder that a fantastic and thought provoking film like this has little
chance of being seen on network or cable television today. Offensive or
not (it's funny but the people who seem to be most offended by this film
are white), this film represents an important part of our American
history, and thus should be preserved and viewed for generations to come
so that we never forget. But for now, The Intruder will have to settle
for the title, "cult status" until modern society is ready to view
Also known by the more appropriate title 'I Hate Your Guts', this is
probably Corman's best film, and takes its visual, stylistic and thematic
cue from the work of Fritz Lang, especially 'Fury'. This may sound like an
unintelligent, superficial comparison; sure, they're both lynch-mob films,
but how can you compare the rigorous intellectual austerity of the German
with the sensationalist populism of Corman? Maybe, and this is a film where
Corman repeatedly grabs you by the collar and thumps you in the guts, never
letting up on the violence or shock, while Lang would keep a more intense
distance; but they both achieve the same ends with different results.
This is Corman's most painstakingly worked-out film, which is why it is so powerful, suggesting, like Lang, a set of mathematical propositions that seem simple but, add up to a theorem that seems to negate mathematical principles of logic, order etc. As in a Lang film, there is no 'hero' to root for - the lead here is a sinister right-winger linked to the KKK who arrives in an archetypal Southern town to stir up race hatred. He is given the conventional Hollywood hero treatment: the opening credits set up his point of view, establishing his way of looking at the world.
But even over these credits, Corman confuses us. At first we think he's a solitary figure, it is him alone we see entering the town and looking at it. Then he comes out with a woman and child, and we assume he's a family man, but that turns out to be wrong too. So, in these opening scenes we are presented with a lead character in the conventional manner, but, unconventionally, we are unable to get a grip on him.
Similarly, in spite of the title and the menacing opening music, Cramer's good manners and charm continue to suggest him as a hero, even though he is trying to stir up racist feeling, especially when compared to the next significant male character, a loud braggart who appears to be raping his nymphomaniac wife. In this first third, there are no sides drawn, we might almost be watching a racist film, such is Cramer's conventional heroic status. He even seems a movie star, with his dark shades and good looks, which Corman plays on ironically in the scenes of demagogary and when his 'fans' protest his jailing.
Like Lang, Corman switches point of view disturbingly and decisively. This opening out of point of view makes clear the issues, and in a way that conventional Hollywood cinema of the time could not conceive. The reason films like this were considered 'B' or exploitation is because they were telling truths that official Hollywood didn't even know existed. How many contemporary Hollywood films were even dealing with these issues, never mind as provocatively and intelligently as this one? When they finally got round to it, it was cosy liberal kramergloop.
There is no flip solution here - the moral centre is a moderate racist who is nearly killed for his growing ethical awareness (the newspaper editor) - other liberals are shown to be almost criminally useless. Corman asks questions with no easy answers - how do you enforce progressive laws? how do you hold back a mob without becoming as reactionary as them? Cramer, influenced by Lenin as much as Hitler, makes his appeals to democracy and freedom, and Corman forces us to admit that he is right, to reconsider what we mean by these concepts. This is a stunning film, full of tense calm giving onto explosions of harrowing violence, with an insight into its roots in sexual neurosis, including a sequence where the KKK come into town like an invading army, a huge cross like a tank turret, ready to be burned; a lynch sequence as shocking as Huck Finn or 'The Ox-bow Incident'.
Along with the unusual, Langian clarity of the monochrome imagery, note the grids on or around Cramer - crossed telegraph wires, the bars of the hotel lobby etc. - culminating in the demand for the accursed rapist behind a grilled window, like a frothing beast; or the childlike immaturity of the racists, whose hatred centres around the school's swing. The frightening 'speech' scene, outside a monumental civic building, in Nuremberg-like lighting, is more potent than anything in 'All the King's Men'.
I wholeheartedly agree with pjmuck's review. The movie does deal with
racism. The plot is delivered in a "far from contrived" manner. The
movie is believable and makes (not meant to offend) the movie To Kill a
Mockingbird's delivery as tame as a Disney short.
What you are not being told is the history behind this movie. It has been released and released under many names including it's original name "I Hate Your Guts" and then "Shame". The reason for this is because the movie is so realistic, it is taboo and is disturbing.
Please note: It's not gory disturbing, it's people disturbing; you can actually believe that a small community of individuals will react as this community does to the suggestions of an outsider, William Shatner.
And the performance from Shatner, my lord!, you will not believe it's William Shatner!
If you are a film buff, buy the DVD, don't even bother renting. The VHS went Out Of Print Quickly, I am not going to miss owning this on DVD. Great viewing!
William Shatner is very good in this film portraying a charismatic white
supremacist who drifts into a small southern town to preach hate at the time
the local high school is beginning to be integrated.
Extremely bold and brutally honest portrayal of race relations in the South in the early 60's when the film was made. By viewing it I can see it must have been way too inflammatory for its time. Yet, some parts of this flim made me kind of tense/uncomfortable. Therefore, I don't see it getting wide acceptance in today's politically correct world either.
Despite this, the film's theme and moral messages are ageless. The script is so intelligently written coupled with Shatner's convincing performance, I was not given impression that this is considered a "B" movie. OK, well maybe there are a few scenes that may indicate that but they are outnumbered by the compelling drama throughout the film. The final 5 to 10 minutes are particularly tense which may actually be hard to watch.
A commendable effort, I had no regrets in plucking down a few bucks to buy this flick.
With 100 times the budget ($80K) of Roger Corman's The Intruder, lesser
directors have created thousands of films with less than a hundredth of
the intelligence, sensitivity, entertainment-value and raw power of
this film. Charles Beaumont, the unfortunately short-lived author and
screen-writer, was contracted to produce a screenplay from his novel
(and appeared in the film as the beleaguered but morally just principal
of a newly integrated school), a young but accomplished William Shatner
was hired, and a few veteran character actors were brought on board.
Most of the actors and crew were locals who, according to Corman,
didn't know very much about what they were getting into. The rest is
Corman indulged in a form of guerilla film-making to make a statement that he felt needed to be made. Corman, the cast and the crew were thrown out of two locations, worked under constant threat of physical violence, and wrapped this lean, tight, morality play in a grand total of three weeks. Most of the cast had literally NO acting experience. Does it show? Occasionally - but in the end the odd representations of some of the extras in the mob only adds to the film's realism.
The Intruder is a story which examines the ease with which a charismatic leader with a pernicious all-consuming hunger for power can exploit fear to rally otherwise normal people into irrationality, violence and hatred. William Shatner stars as Adam Cramer, a northern hate-monger who has just arrived in the small southern town of Caxton to sow the seeds of racial violence just as the town has begun to integrate its schools in compliance with federal law. Cramer preaches non-violent resistance, but is unwilling to stand in the way when his followers escalate the issue in their own way. His powerful and dramatic speaking ability and his cunning turn most of the town's white minority against their black neighbors, culminating in his orchestration of a vicious frame-up of an innocent student.
Cramer is, in one way or another, behind almost everything that happens in this film. Yet the film does not permit facile scape-goating of this single sociopath. Rather, it indicts ignorance in general, and racism, hatred and intolerance much more specifically. Amazingly, it does so without exploiting stereotypes of southerners, yankees, blacks, whites, or anybody else. The Intruder deals with its subjects without reducing them to anything that could be wholly represented or analyzed in the hour and half of intense drama the film gives us. Instead, the Intruder leaves its subjects wide-open and raw. If you view this film about once every 6 months, you might just take something different away from it each time.
I do not believe the rumor that Roger Corman has ever, in any way, suggested that William Shatner's performance destroyed this film's box office potential. In interviews, Corman has consistently given Shatner a great deal of praise for his award-winning portrayal of evil incarnate. And rightly so. Shatner is nothing short of incredible in this film. He clearly dedicated everything he had to this film, and it shows. Other noteworthy performances are given by Frank Maxwell, Robert Emhardt and Charles Barnes.
The film is pristinely directed - lean and economically edited, even for Corman. The cinematography is straightforward and clean. And the locations are entirely appropriate - another Corman trademark.
Possibly the best truly low-budget film I have ever seen. Would-be film-makers, even some established big-budget purveyors of modern junk-food-film should learn a great deal from a careful study of the Intruder.
The Intruder is an amazing film. I would recommend seeing this movie at
least once in your life. William Shatner plays a charismatic bigot who
to a small southern town to get the locals to rise up against racial
The acting in this movie is great. Shatner's performance won him a few awards at film festivals and is stellar. The story itself is well written and directed. He and Roger Corman did an interview on the DVD which is quite interesting. The cast and crew themselves dealt with a lot from the local population while shooting this flick.
Once again, I highly recommend picking this one up for your collection. Or at least rent it.
I don't know how I stumbled upon this film but I'm sure glad I did.
It talks about a young man, a missionary of sorts, who comes to a small Souther Town representing what is basically a racist organization. He and most of the townspeople are against the desegregation of schools.
The film is an excellent portrayal of racism in the South, showing how people felt. It has an extremely realistic feel to it, sometimes an almost documentary feel.
The most surprising thing is that this was directed by the king of low budget horror, Roger Corman. However if you look at this film, it will remind you nothing of his previous work, but instead shows a more serious side of him.
A hidden gem, see it.
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