They Walk Among Us!

on January 06, 2009 by Steve Simels
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the intruder poster.jpg

And speaking, as we were yesterday, of genius screenwriter and Twilight Zone scribe Charles Beaumont, let us now praise what is perhaps his masterpiece -- the incendiery 1962 The Intruder. Adding, in front, that it may perhaps be the masterpiece of its director (Roger Corman!) and star (William Shatner!!) as well.

If you haven't seen it, you're not alone -- it's been described, often and accurately, as The Greatest Film Most People Have Never Seen -- but here's the short version: Shatner plays (brilliantly) a racist firebrand who comes into a small Southern town to deliberately inflame its citizens over the possibility of Integration. Corman shot it on location in rural Missouri, not far from where some lynchings had recently taken place, with a mix of Hollywood actors and locals (who hadn't seen the entire script and didn't realize how unflatteringly they were being portrayed); the whole thing looks and plays like a mix of Sergei Eisenstein and Cinema Verité. Here's Roger and Bill, from the recently (and beautifully) restored DVD version, on the making of the picture.

Bottom line: An amazing film, and still painfully relevant; you can (and should) order the aforementioned restored version here.

Incidentally, although in the video Corman repeats his long time boast that The Intruder was the only film of his to have lost money, that's not strictly true. In 1974, he also took a bath on Cockfighter, a little exploitation number -- in the manner of the chicks-in-prison and horny-redneck-nurses pictures he was doing at the time -- with the late great Warren Oates as a cracker who trains roosters to tear the crap out of each other for money. In fact, in How I Made a Hundred Movies in Hollywood and Never Lost a Dime, his charming, if misleadingly titled, 1990 autobiography, Corman admits, somewhat wistfully, that neither he or anybody connected with the picture had considered that even in inbred racist circles the whole subject of cockfighting might be considered a little declassé.

 

Tags: Roger Corman, William Shatner, Twilight Zone, Charles Beaumont, The Intruder
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