Intruder DVD: Review By Evan "Mushy" Jacobs

A compelling film that very interestingly looked at the idea of race when the U.S. was coming to terms with integration.
  • OVERALL
    3.0
    WORTHY
  • Feature
  • Extras
  • Replay Value
THE GOOD
A compelling film that very interestingly looked at the idea of race when the U.S. was coming to terms with integration.
THE BAD
This movie looks like the kind DVD you'd pick up in the dump bins at CVS.
THE FEATURE
The Intruder is the shady tale of Adam Cramer (William Shatner). This man is a master manipulator and when he comes to a small southern town after Brown vs. Board of Education has been past, his main goal is to inflame the race issue even though it isn't 100% clear how he benefits. He is opposed by newspaperman Tom McDaniel (Frank Maxwell) who takes a lot of abuse for standing up for what he believes in, mainly that Cramer is trying to prey on the town's fear to meet his objectives. The problem with Cramer is that he is a silver-tongued devil of the highest order, and this is what ultimately exposes him when he has an affair with the wife of Sam Griffin (Leo V. Gordon). With the town in an uproar over blacks being allowed to be in their school, things eventually come to a head when Adam Cramer is met head on. Like many people fueled by hate, he eventually implodes and the entire town sees just how much of a coward this man really is.

What really makes The Intruder work is the timeliness of this movie. This isn't a film that was made after the fact or after the events depicted took place. Corman took his camera, cast and went into the south and shot this film in the thick of things. In fact, he shot the scene when Adam Cramer made one his biggest hate speeches, with real locals, and the townspeople's reactions were real.

The Intruder is a disturbing film for many reasons and on many levels.
THE EXTRAS
Remembering The Intruder

Featuring Roger Corman and William Shatner these two screen legends breakdown what this movie was about. They talk about the 1960s, the politics of the day, the social climate and how all of that coalesced into making this film what it is. Corman is a master at simply breaking down his directing process and what he was trying to achieve, while Shatner talks a good game about his character as he looks like he's either really tired or he's been up the night before this featurette was shot drinking.
THE VIDEO
Full Screen. This film looked horrible. I went through the featurette before I watched this movie. I noticed that things looked bad but I just figured that is how things were for the assets that they edited for that piece. Then I started watching this movie and it looked worse than those $1 movies you find at Big Lots! There were sections missing out of scenes, points where the music dropped out, and just a lot of dirt and other murkiness plaguing this print.
THE AUDIO
Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono. The audio was a little better than the picture but that doesn't mean that it wasn't without its problems. There were points when the audio sounded really low and there was a lot of hiss and other noises as this film played. I noticed this quite a bit and it really sort of made for an annoying viewing experience. I can't believe that Buena Vista Home Entertainment would put out a DVD that looked this poor. If they can make Mr. Moto movies from the 1930s look good, why would they have a problem here?
THE PACKAGE
They have given this release a really nice packaging job. Making it look like all the other Roger Corman movies that Disney is releasing, they show some images from the film that are in black, white and red. The back cover showcases two shots of William Shatner (there's a big one of him on the front), a Special Features listing, a cast list and technical specs.
THE FINAL WORD
I read about The Intruder in Roger Corman's book and I realized that this was a movie I had to see. While I was let down that Disney would put out such a poor version of this movie, I will admit that there is an authenticity and realism that even the toughest years cannot take away from this film. The acting from all the characters is really strong and the the only time anything seems overdone is with the dramatic score. There are just too many moments where it seems to spring into the scene and today it doesn't play with as much strength. The subject matter of this film is so stirring that it really doesn't need any extra nuance to drive the point home.

The Intruder is a rare film that unapologetically confronts racism. By todays standards it might be seen as tame or even helping to spread the propaganda that it was supposedly against, but looked at with a historical eye this movie stokes the conversational fires like very films on race can.

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