From The Grindhouse Cinema Database
The "King of the B's" Roger Corman is a well known director and producer among movie enthusiasts. His brilliance for low budget filmmaking and fun genre concepts have inspired all kinds of artists who want to contribute to this medium. Not to mention, he founded New World Pictures, which is the studio that released memorable cult hits such as Piranha, Death Race 2000 and The Stuff. However, there's one film that he directed that many people have no knowledge of. It's called The Intruder. How did I come across this film? Well, recently Roger gave an interview to Variety and this is what he said about one particular candidate in the upcoming 2016 Presidential election:
"...Well, to a certain extent there is a parallel between Donald Trump and Adam Cramer, the character who comes to the South to stir up racial tensions for personal and political gain. There have always been major demagogues, and Trump is a major demagogue now. But demagogues have not been unknown in American history, or in the history of the world."
Well, what can I say? I'm not a supporter of Clinton or Trump, so my first reaction to this comment is "I have to watch it" since I didn't know that Roger Corman did political dramas. And, no, this is not one of those campy anti-Communist films that people always remember when they think of the 50's-60's era like If Footmen Tire You, What Will Horses Do? or Red Nightmare. This is an intense study of racism in the Southern states.
The great William Shatner plays Adam Cramer, a mysterious man who arrives in the small Southern town of "Caxton". At first, he introduces himself as a social worker and looks harmless. Meanwhile, people in the town are openly saying that they hate the new desegregation law that allows black kids to study in the same schools as white kids (we'll get into that later). After a visit to a nice, clean part of Caxton, Cramer grabs a taxi and visits the "nigger town" part of the city. The area where the black people live looks much worse than the white area. You think he will fight for their quality of life, right? Nope. He goes straight and talks to Verne, a wealthy landowner to support his anti-black stance. Here's one"highlight" from what Cramer says...
"Is it the collective will of people that niggers should be allowed to take over the whole world?"
Since Cramer knows that the racist public hates the desegregation law as well, he uses fear and anger to convince these people without using facts. In front of the town hall, Cramer gives a speech about a conspiracy that the whole affirmative law is a Communist plot that is funded by wealthy Jews who hate America. Therefore, it's Cramer mission to make America great agai-...er, to use patriotism to push his agenda. What happens afterwards gets worse and worse. Black people get bullied on the street and their spiritual leader gets killed by a bomb. At this point the KKK cranks up the racial tension even more by organizing cross burnings in the "nigger town". It seems like there's nothing that can stop him and everything is hopeless. Luckily, there's a character in the subplot that's going to save us and the black people of Caxton. He's Tom, a local newspaper editor. He decides to stop the wrath of Cramer, but it's not that easy since the whole town has an anti-black attitude and his daughter is seduced by Cramer.
This is a really unapologetic movie. Almost everyone in the town uses either "nigger" or "nigroes" when they describe black people. I know that they said that due to the context of its time, but I'm still surprised that Roger Corman let many characters use racial slurs in the film. Over the course of the film, Cramer successfully convinces more and more people to join his team. He uses anger, fear, and raw emotion to persuade them. As I said, he can't say where he gets the facts from. There's a part during his speech in which he claims that someone gets the money from the Jews. When he's asked by local people that where did he got this info from, he just says "It's on the record!". This is scary stuff. We witness that using emotion often works better than using real facts since it's faster to lure people especially when they are already angry about something.
Another thing that I'd like to point out here is the bullying. After Cramer makes an angry speech, the racial crimes in Caxton skyrocket. Black families are terrorized across the town and when local police investigate, the people who are there totally deny that they are bullying them. That's total bullcrap. Sure, nowadays there might be some hoaxes here and there, but bullying based on race still probably exists somewhere in the world. And the way to stop it? That's clearly not by using a twitter hashtag and commercial campaigns that teach tolerance. How about fighting back? The trouble there is that they're gonna twist the story and say "See?! That [insert race here] attacked me! They are violent!", just like these nasty townspeople in the film.
I'm really surprised that Mr. Corman has not only given us campy, fun movies, but also intense dramas like The Intruder. By the way, a re-release print of this film called "Shame" is in the public domain. So if you're interested in racial issues during the Civil Rights era or want to watch a fantastic film from the early 60's, don't let the single minded King of B-movies label on Roger Corman fool you! Thumbs up! Check it out.
Nuttawut Permpithak hails from Thailand. He spends his free time watching exploitation films (or any films from the past) writing articles, taking photos and reviewing films for GCDb.