Intruder in the Dust (1949) - Rotten Tomatoes

Intruder in the Dust (1949)

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Critic Consensus: Like the William Faulkner classic it's adapted from, Intruder in the Dust confronts American racism with skilled storytelling and unflinching courage.

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Movie Info

Intruder in the Dust is one of the best of Hollywood's postwar "racial tolerance" cycle--a cycle that would come to an abrupt end in the politically paranoid 1950s. Based on a novel by William Faulkner, the film takes place in a small Mississippi town (it was filmed on location in and around Oxford, MS). Juano Hernandez plays an African-American landowner who is arrested on a murder charge. Resentful of Hernandez' industriousness, the white townsfolk are eager to see him hang. David Brian, the attorney uncle of a young white boy (Claude Jarman Jr.) who has befriended Hernandez, agrees to take the accused man's case. His job is complicated by the lynch-mob mentality fomented by the dead man's brother (Charles Kemper) and Hernandez' refusal to reveal the name of the man he suspects as the killer. The hostile atmosphere reaches a fever pitch, but justice is ultimately served. Intruder in the Dust stands out among other films of its period with its refusal to stoop to any form of condescension towards its black characters or to rationalize the behavior of the bigots. Though produced by MGM, the film wisely displays none of that studio's patented glossiness, opting instead for a dusty, sun-scorched, fleabitten veneer that enhances the film's basic realism.

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Cast

Juano Hernandez
as Lucas Beauchamp
David Brian
as John Gavin Stevens
Claude Jarman Jr.
as Chick Mallison
Porter Hall
as Nub Gowrie
Elizabeth Patterson
as Miss Habersham
Charles Kemper
as Crawford Gowrie
Will Geer
as Sheriff Hampton
David Clarke
as Vinson Gowrie
Lela Bliss
as Mrs. Mallison
Harry Hayden
as Mr. Mallison
Harry Antrim
as Mr. Tubbs
Dan White
as Will Legate
R.X. Williams
as Mr. Lilley
Edmund Lowe
as The Gowrie Twin
Ephraim Lowe
as The Gowrie Twin
Julia S. Marshbanks
as Molly Beauchamp
Jack Odom
as Truck Driver
John Chapin Morgan
as Black Convict
James Kirkwood
as Black Convict
Ben Hilbun
as Attendant
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Critic Reviews for Intruder in the Dust

All Critics (42) | Top Critics (14)

As producer and director. Brown has maintained brilliant balance between the film's melodrama and its powerful social message.

January 28, 2021 | Full Review…

Intruder in the Dust is not only a great social document but an engrossing, thrilling story of courage and passion.

January 28, 2021 | Full Review…

While we may not like what we see on the screen, we must admit that Brown's intention in capturing the Faulkner yarn on film was a meritorious one.

January 28, 2021 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Grimly courageous.

January 28, 2021 | Full Review…

Good performances by Juano Hernandez, Claude Jarman Jr., David Brian and others, and superbly directed by Clarence Brown.

January 28, 2021 | Full Review…

Its great effectiveness lies less in its story than in, for instance, the picture it presents of the crowds gathering outside the gaol waiting for the dreadful, murderous show. The horror of this crowd is in its very casualness, its almost festive air.

January 28, 2021 | Full Review…

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