Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Tuesday's Overlooked Film: The Intruder (1962)

Roger Corman is best known for his schlock, but there's a hidden gem in his repertoire: the 1962 film called The Intruder, also released as I Hate Your Guts and Shame. It stars young William Shatner as an All American young man who also happens to be a racist and a fascist. And you just cannot not love a film that stars young William Shatner as an All American young man who also happens to be a racist and a fascist.

The film, shot somewhere in the Deep South, is a hard-hitting drama based on Charles Beaumont's novel of the same name, but it veers away from cheap exploitation and also from the patronizing racial attitudes so prevalent in films like Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? There are no heroes in the film, as there are no easy explanations or solutions. In the end, it's clear everyone's still going to go on being racist, even though Shatner's All American young man is dragged to shame.

I haven't read Beaumont's novel, as it seems pretty hard to come by, but it would be interesting to compare the two, as it feels like Corman had toned down the novel. Beaumont himself scripted the film, but there are some moments that don't ring true to me, such as the seduction of a lonely woman and the violent abuse of a young black kid in the end. They would've felt more right if Shatner had raped the woman and if the mob had tried to lynch the kid.

But all in all, The Intruder comes highly recommended from me. If you're a fan of no-bullshit drama that pulls no punches, doesn't deliver phony speeches between action and still makes a relevant point about our world, check out The Intruder. (Especially when you know you get a chance to see young William F. Nolan as one of the racist hicks.)

Here's a longer post by a Finnish writer on the film. It's also in English.

More Overlooked Films, umm, somewhere, certainly not at Todd Mason's blog. I must admit I've fallen off the radar here.


Anders E said...

I acquired this on DVD based on this very blog post alone, and now that I've seen it let me just say that it's one hell of a movie. It was like being socked in the mouth. I really can't understand why it isn't more famous.
However, let me point out that Shatner's salesman neighbour - the closest we get to a hero here - says sarcastically to the mob who have tied the black youth to a swing something along the lines of "You are probably already telling yourself you weren't gonna kill him". It's so evident the intent was to lynch the guy all along.
Thanks for tip.

jurinummelin said...

Yeah, the salesman is the best guy in the film - yet he beats his miserable wife and is probably a drunk. I just love this kind of stuff!

It's evident they are going to lynch the poor kid, but the scene in the swing just isn't horrifying enough. It's a bit of a letdown, I'm sorry to say.

Anders E said...

Remember that the movie was shot in the south using town locals as extras. Corman had to be pretty sneaky about what the movie was about, or things would have got real nasty. Which probably explains why that scene is toned down.

jurinummelin said...

Yeah, you're right, that probably explains it. But still I wonder if they put him on a swing in Beaumont's book.

jurinummelin said...

Oh, there's a long section on the film in David Cochran's book AMERICA NOIR. There might be something about Beaumont as well, will have to check. Just remembered this.