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The Intruder
I Hate Your Guts / Shame / The Stranger

USA 1961
produced by
Roger Corman, Gene Corman (executive) for Palo Alto, Filmgroup
directed by Roger Corman
starring William Shatner, Frank Maxwell, Beverly Lunsford, Robert Emhardt, Jeanne Cooper, Leo Gordon, Charles Barnes, Katherine Smith, Charles Beaumont, George Clayton Johnson, William F.Nolan, Oceo Ritch, Phoebe Row, Bo Dodd, Walter Kurtz
screenplay by Charles Beaumont, based on his novel, music by Herman Stein

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Adam Cramer (William Shatner), a stranger working on behalf of an utlra-reactionary organisation, comes to a small town in the South of the USA to help the people with their problem - integration. Of course, almost all (white) Southerners are against it, but what can they do when the gouvernment orders blacks to be admitted to high school ? Now Cramer, with the help of rich businessman Shipman (Robert Emhardt), claims to have the solution, and soon he has most of the whitefolks out on the street picketing, and at night they dress in best Ku Klux Klan attire and burn crosses. Things start to slip a little though when a couple of his admirers take matters into their own hands, blow up the church of the blacks and thus kill the black priest, which is a blow to Cramer's plans who wants to win the battle aghainst integration without the use of violence. At least, the townsfolks think, that will teach these niggers not to come to our high school no more.

However, there is one man in town, newspaper editor Tom McDaniel (Frank Maxwell) whose eyes have been opened by all that has happened, and he personally escorts the black students to high school the next day ... and is brutally beaten up by the townsfolks for it - a second blow for Cramer's anti violence campaign.

In the meantime, Cramer has also made another mistake, he had sex with the wife (Jeanne Cooper) of his next-door neighbour Sam Griffin (Leo Gordon), a run-down salesman who sees right through Cramer's techniques of pitching an idea - and he promises Cramer to get back at him.

Cramer soon realizes he needs a big showdown to end his war - so he more or less forces McDaniel's daughter Ella (Beverly Lunsford) to accuse black student Joey Green (Charles Barnes) of having raped her, otherwise her father will be hurt even more. Of course, once these accusations are made public, Cramer organizes an angry mob to put the high school under siege and demand its principal (Charles Beaumont) to release Joey into their custody. Joey realizes his only (slim) chance is to face the mob ... however, it is not long before the mob once again slips out of Cramer's hands, and instead of handing the boy over to the police (which Cramer wanted to do) they prepare to lynch him - and almost succeed in doing so, too, until Sam Griffin shows up with Ella and makes her tell the whole truth - that all of her accusations were lies and she was set up to do it by Cramer. All of a sudden, Cramer's grip over the townsfolks is broken, and even his mentor, Shipman, doesn't only turn away from him, he also slaps him out of sheer disappointment and frustration ... and Cramer himself almost suffers a mental breakdown, while Sam Griffin, who looked like a born loser from the beginning, has not only won over Cramer in the end, he has also saved the black boy's life ...

 

Roger Corman's most ambitious film is quite probably also the best anti-segregation film of its time (not that there were many good ones), and for once, Corman's a tad rough, unpretentious, even gritty directorial style, his cheap production methods and his dedication to entertainment instead of socio-political commentary work entirely for the film (interestingly enough though, The Intruder, perhaps because of its controversial subject matter, was Corman's only film that did not make its money back - at least not in the short run). Part of the impact of the film has to be accredited to  William Shatner though, who was a very capable actor before he decided to play every role like Captain Kirk from Star Trek and whi gives a frightfully believable performance, quite probably the best of his career.

Highest recommendation !!!

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Thanks for watching !!!

 

 

Robots and rats,
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love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
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from the post-apocalyptic
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Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
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Out now from
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produced by and starring
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directed by
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written by
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out now on DVD