Roger Corman's The Intruder runs only about 84 minutes. It's quite strong. Keep in mind when you see this 1962 film that, in 1963, America would see Dr. Martin Luther King's historic March on Washington for Civil Rights in August. The month after the march, four little girls would be killed in the racist bombing of a Birmingham, Alabama church. Here's the movie while it's still available on YouTube.
At one point, a mob of angry white men rushes at and surrounds a car with a black family in it. The family is taunted, the car rocked and the husband is forced out of the car. The family wants no trouble. The black husband is spat on. The journalist charges in to stop the abuse. He later tells how the crowd "terrorized" the married couple and two little kids. I thought of the irritation black people (myself included) felt with some news outlets that did not call the racist shooting murders of nine black people in a Charleston, South Carolina church this summer an act of terrorism.
Monday on National Public Radio's Morning Edition, host Steve Inskeep introduced a feature with memories of former NAACP chairman, Julian Bond. Mr. Bond passed away last weekend at age 75. Inskeep mentioned the major impression Bond made on him when he was young and saw Julian Bond on a TV news show debate actor Gene Hackman with elegance and strength. Hackman was promoting Mississippi Burning, a Civil Rights era drama that got Hackman an Oscar nomination for Best Actor and a nomination for Best Picture of 1988. The film is loosely based on the FBI investigation into the murders of three young civil rights workers (two white, one black) in Mississippi in 1964. Inskeep said that Bond praised Hackman on his excellent performance then proceeded to state why Mississippi Burning was not a good film. For one thing, the civil rights drama had not one black actor in a key role. Inskeep added that Julian Bond was so brilliant in his argument that Hackman pretty much agreed with him. The Intruder has black people in it. Not professional actors you've heard of...but you see families and you see students walking bravely to school.
Corman gave many actors such as Jack Nicholson, Bruce Dern, Robert De Niro and Peter Fonda their start. He was mentor to director/actor Ron Howard. Corman was awarded an Honorary Oscar in 2009. I know Corman's totally fun monster movies, his hippie movies (The Trip, Wild Angels) and those entertaining Vincent Price flicks based on Edgar Allen Poe stories (The Pit and the Pendulum, The Tomb of Ligeia). But I never saw The Intruder until this week. Wow. Thank you, Roger Corman.
The Intruder is now also available on DVD.