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USA 1949
Directed by
Clarence Brown
87 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars

Intruder In The Dust

Although it has (fortunately) dated somewhat in subject matter, particularly for its time, which was well before the civil rights movement in America, Intruder In The Dust is am impressively challenging  film.

Based on a novel by William Faulkner and set in rural Mississippi in the 1940s it tells the story of Lucas Beauchamp  (Juano Hernandez) a local black man who arrogantly refuses to play “nigger” to white townsfolk. When he is found standing over the body of a dead white man holding a pistol that has recently been fired a lynch mob quickly gathers.  Beauchamp insists he's innocent and asks the town's most prominent lawyer, Gavin Stevens (David Brian), to defend him, but it takes a local boy, Chick (Claude Jarman Jr. ) to persuade him to take the case. The story  is told from the point of the boy, who intermittently narrates what is effectively his awakening to his unquestioned racism.

Filmed in Faulkner’s actual hometown of Oxford, Mississippi and using townspeople as extras a good deal of trouble has been gone to (and perhaps budgetary considerations played their part) to keep the film realistic the settings reinforcing the integrity which is at the heart of the story.

Director Brown came out of the silent era and helmed many high profile films for MGM but here he skillfully adopts a low-key sober style that well suits the story (photography was by Robert Surtees) his judgment only slightly erring with an unnecessarily sermonizing closure.

Although critically admired the film was marketed as an action thriller and, unsurprisingly, did not do well at the box office.




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