Roger Corman is not well known amongst our generation, lost with our parent’s memories of low-budget genre films (the monster, gangster, horror, biker movies) that made the drive-in circuit. That’s one of the pitfalls coming into this world a century after filmmaking began: you’ve got a lot of fucking movies to watch.
Corman’s The Intruder is one of the older films we whipper-snappers should re-discover (along with the usual suspects: Casablanca, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Citizen Kane) considering its social commentary. Hell, if for nothing else you should watch it to see William Shatner play a bad guy. After seeing Shatner play Adam Cramer I was disappointed he didn’t choose to revisit the Dark Side – he may have been better at it than playing noble Captain Kirk.
So what’s it about? Well, Cramer is an outsider who visits a small town to rile up the locals against the recent integration decision. With Cramer’s white suite, black sunglasses, good looks, and snake like charm, this is how you’d imagine the devil would look like.
Shatner’s evilness aside, the film’s analysis of mob mentality and the voice that stirs the hornet’s nest is timeless. As Cramer delivers fiery, slippery slope, dubious speeches, only one man has enough critical thinking skills to question the validity of his accusations. With men like Adolf Hitler and Joseph McCarthy available as real life candidates for the Worst Rabble Rousers of the Century, we can see Cramer’s character within a realistic, historical context. Even the last eight years have seemed like such a Cramer speech, with only one man willing to investigate such chicanery.
It also pays to know the background on The Intruder‘s production process: Corman and Co. shot the film on location in East Prairie, Missouri in three weeks; during the shoot they were thrown out of town by the sheriff for being “communists”.
The Intruder was the only film by Corman that lost money and when you watch it you can see why: no one wants a drive-in movie to call them out for hating “niggers”. For this reason it becomes a historically important film as it had the balls to call those of the “racist persuasion” by their true name in the middle of the Civil Rights movement. Evidently it was “EVIL ASS CRACKERS!” or something like that.