The Intruder (1962 film)
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|Directed by||Roger Corman|
|Produced by||Gene Corman
|Written by||Charles Beaumont|
|Music by||Herman Stein|
|Edited by||Ronald Sinclair|
|Distributed by||Pathé-America Distrib.Co.|
The Intruder is a 1962 American film directed by Roger Corman, after a 1959 novel by Charles Beaumont, starring William Shatner. The story depicts the machinations of a racist named Adam Cramer (portrayed by Shatner), who arrives in the fictitious small southern town of Caxton in order to incite townspeople to racial violence against the town's black minority and court-ordered school integration.
The film is also known under its US reissue titles as I Hate Your Guts! and Shame, and The Stranger in the UK release.
The introduction to Cramer is a simple shot of him stepping off a bus, carrying only a light suitcase, with innate confidence, a confidence which remains with him. On an interpersonal level, starting with the first character Cramer meets, the audience sees he is a charmer, but it is soon revealed that the character uses this charm quite professionally, in furtherance of a hard, cunning political effort to incite Caxton's existing racial tension into violence. At the same time, Cramer seeks personal pleasure with every interaction. Cramer's racist, incendiary politics are thereby proven inseparable from his pleasure. By manipulating many of Caxton's citizens on a personal level, Cramer implements a strategic plan to incite violent action by eliciting financial backing from wealthy local Verne Shipman (Robert Emhardt) to form a chapter of the fictitious Patrick Henry Society and use it to mobilize the townspeople against integration. Following an inflammatory speech by Cramer in front of the town hall, the first act of open violence is when the Patrick Henry Society, headed by Cramer, burns a cross in the black district, followed by the harassment and near-lynching of a black driver and his family. It is then that a rational, internally secure character named Tom McDaniel (Frank Maxwell) realizes he is willing to stand up against both Cramer and the townspeople's hatred toward their black neighbors—this costs him a severe beating by his white neighbors, resulting in concussion and the loss of one eye. Realizing his grip on the mob may be fading, Cramer shrewdly manipulates McDaniel's teenage daughter Ella (Beverly Lunsford) (whom he had also seduced earlier in the movie) into making a false claim of interracial rape, which causes a mob to gather around the Caxton high school.
A parallel plot line has developed meanwhile, around Cramer's next-door neighbors at the motel, salesman Sam Griffin (Leo Gordon) and his emotionally unstable wife, Vi (Jeanne Cooper), whom Cramer seduces while Griffin is away on business. Upon returning, Sam discovers his wife has left and confronts Cramer, who pulls a gun on Griffin. Griffin, suspecting Cramer's motives, had earlier taken the bullets out of Cramer's gun, and Cramer, distraught, tells him to leave the room. Accurately assessing Cramer's nature during the ensuing confrontation, he goes on to break up the high school mob using his personal skills and natural presence, as well as a true confession by Ella. Rather than approach Cramer's sociopathy violently, or take revenge for Cramer's seduction of Griffin's wife, Griffin, without animosity, confronts the mob and turns them against Cramer. Shipman, finally seeing Cramer for what he really is, knocks him to the ground. The film ends with Griffin telling Cramer that his "work" is finished and that he should take the bus out of town, handing Cramer the bullets he had taken from Cramer's gun during the earlier confrontation, and stating that he wouldn't want to steal from him.
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The novel was published in 1958 and film rights were optioned by Seven Arts. They were unable to get the project off the ground and Corman bought the rights in 1960.He tried to get the film made with producer Edward Small for United Artists but Small pulled out. He then envisioned the film costing $500,000 and starring Tony Randall. However he was unable to raise enough money, with the movie being turned down by UA, Allied Artists and AIP. Corman managed to raise some funds from Pathé Labs with Corman and his brother Gene putting in the balance. Gene Corman later said:
We put our hearts, our souls - and what few people do - our money into this picture. Everybody asked us 'Why would you make this picture?' as if to say why try to do something you believe in when everything else is so profitable. Obviously we did it because we wanted to, and we think it's a damn good job.
It was shot in black and white over three and a half weeks on location in southeast Missouri. Some of the production took place in East Prairie, Charleston and Sikeston. Before it was finished, local people objected to the film's portrayal of racism and segregation.
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The movie received good reviews but encountered difficulty obtaining release. Pathe released it in New York but eventually pulled out and the Cormans took over distributing the movie themselves. Although it had a budget of only $80,000, until recently it was the only Corman film to ever lose money. The $6,000 paid by the recent documentary Charles Beaumont: The Twilight Zone’s Magic Man finally put it in the black.
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The plot development was unusually mature and complex for its time, contrasting with the often patronizing approaches of other films of the 1950s and 1960s to the subject of race. The final act centering on Sam Griffin focuses on political manipulation of racism rather than simply providing payback for Cramer's evil acts, concluding with neither a happy ending nor an equally artificial reverse. The same even handedness informs Beaumont's construction of character; the only two rational and mature protagonists are Tom McDaniel and Griffin, respectively a moderate racist and a boisterous, overbearing man partly at fault for his wife's clinical depression.
- Mark McGee, Faster and Furiouser: The Revised and Fattened Fable of American International Pictures, McFarland, 1996 p187-189
- FILMLAND EVENTS: CORMAN HAS ACQUIRED RIGHTS TO 'INTRUDER' Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 04 Jan 1960: C15.
- Todd McCarthy, 'Movies: A Swarm of B's From Roger Corman Corman Festival', Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 05 Feb 1978: m31.
- Roger Corman & Jim Jerome, How I Made a Hundred Movies in Hollywood and Never lost a Dime, Muller, 1990 p 98
- CHAINED BY TIMIDITY: 'The Intruder' Seeks Release SEIDENBAUM, ART. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 23 Mar 1963: A7.
- Dixon, Wheeler Winston (August 2005) "Roger Corman" Senses of Cinema from Web Archive
- on YouTube
- The Intruder at the Internet Movie Database
- The Intruder is available for free download at the Internet Archive
- The Intruder at AllMovie
- Sam Hamm on The Intruder at Trailers From Hell