The Intruder (1962) is one of the more unusual films ever made by Roger Corman. It’s also an aberration in that it’s said to be one of the only Corman movies that ever lost money. (A man who never takes his eye off the bottom line, Corman has subsequently noted that it finally made a profit—on DVD. So it didn’t lose money, but it took 40-odd years to be able to make that claim.) The film treads a very thin line between exploitation and social relevance, with the latter squeaking past in the end. It’s an early Civil Rights drama that stars William Shatner (yes, William Shatner) in a surprisingly strong performance as a glib-tongued outsider who comes into a small southern town that’s on the very eve of integration to sow the seeds of racism—even if it means pitting whites against whites in the bargain. It must have been a truly shocking work in 1962, because it remains pretty powerful today—not in the least because of the way it handles the usual notion of the agitators from “up North” coming down South and causing unrest among the black populace. Here we find a film that presents a town coping with integration—albeit not happily—only to be driven into a frenzy by an outsider with the opposite agenda. Definitely worth a look.
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