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The Exiles

The Exiles (1961)



Average Rating: 7.8/10
Reviews Counted: 34
Fresh: 31 | Rotten: 3

An historic film, The Exiles combines the realism of social consciousness films with the loosely spun narrative of improvisational features to tell the true story of Native Americans adrift in a derelict neighborhood in Los Angeles, 1960.


Average Rating: 8/10
Critic Reviews: 17
Fresh: 16 | Rotten: 1

An historic film, The Exiles combines the realism of social consciousness films with the loosely spun narrative of improvisational features to tell the true story of Native Americans adrift in a derelict neighborhood in Los Angeles, 1960.



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Average Rating: 3.7/5
User Ratings: 287

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Movie Info

The independently produced The Exiles was warmly received at the 1966 Venice Film Festival, then inexplicably fell into obscurity. This is a shame: though made 30 years ago, the issues raised by the film are just as potent and powerful today. The story concerns a trio of young Native Americans who decide to leave the reservation. Once they've reached Los Angeles, the three protagonists find themselves just as lost and isolated as they would have been in the middle of the desert.




Kent MacKenzie

Nov 17, 2009

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All Critics (35) | Top Critics (18) | Fresh (31) | Rotten (3) | DVD (9)

A ghostly and startling tale of Native Americans in Los Angeles -- a fusion of documentary and fiction -- in the late '50s. Never previously released, it's a revelation.

September 7, 2011 Full Review Source: Entertainment Weekly
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The Exiles ... presents one boozy night in the lives of Homer, Cliff, Tommy and Yvonne, from a convertible joy ride through the Third Street Tunnel, to an early-morning powwow.

November 20, 2008 Full Review Source: Chicago Tribune
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Kent Mackenzie's magnificent, long-undistributed, unclassifiable first feature, The Exiles, stands as a rare consideration of the inner and outer lives of American Indians in a big American city.

October 18, 2008 Full Review Source: Boston Globe
Boston Globe
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Rife with astonishing black-and-white images of an unknown L.A. and clashing sounds of bars, cinemas and poker games, The Exiles is one of those movies that functions as both artifact and fresh discovery.

October 10, 2008 Full Review Source: Denver Post
Denver Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Its moving portraiture is refreshingly free of cliches and moralizing platitudes, and the high-contrast black-and-white photography and dense, highly creative sound track are equally impressive.

October 10, 2008 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A cinéma vérité look at the rootless Native American community that once upon a time lived in Bunker Hill and hung out in downtown bars such as Club Ritz, this Kent Mackenzie film is a brooding picture of a darkly beautiful, long-gone Los Angeles.

August 22, 2008 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's as if someone had done a ghost dance and it worked, just a little -- enough to turn your sigh into a gasp of amazement.

November 4, 2013 Full Review Source: The Nation
The Nation

A sorrowful and beautiful film, the kind you never see from mainstream Tinseltown studios, then or now.

May 6, 2010 Full Review Source: East Bay Express
East Bay Express

Kent Mackenzie's 1961 movie 'The Exiles' was so revolutionary that even now it seems gutsy.

November 18, 2009 Full Review Source:

It's an essential film that hardly anyone saw upon its release in 1961.

September 23, 2009 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

For its beautiful black-and-white aesthetics, docudrama realism, and, sadly, still fresh portrait of off-reservation Native Americans, an excellent rediscovery

December 7, 2008 Full Review Source:

The amateur actors, many of whom in reality met sad ends on those same streets, are utterly convincing. You have the sense again and again that you've unearthed a time capsule -- a sensation that cinema alone of all the arts can impart.

December 5, 2008 Full Review Source: Oregonian

Mackenzie imposes no obvious attitude or mediating outsider's perspective on the material; he just presents it to us, a snapshot of an otherwise unknown culture, with details specific to its time and place.

November 12, 2008

Just because a movie was lost and found doesn't mean it's worth your $8.75.

October 15, 2008 Full Review Source: Arizona Daily Star
Arizona Daily Star

The Exiles is a vivid portrait of Native American culture. Even more astonishing is the fact the movie is more than 40 years old.

September 18, 2008 Full Review Source: Deseret News, Salt Lake City
Deseret News, Salt Lake City

The movie has an undeniable emotional punch and its historical place in cinema is undisputable (there's still nothing else quite like it).

July 31, 2008 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

Best if approached as a nostalgic curiosity shot a half century ago rather than as a conventional flick offering a satisfying cinematic experience.

July 21, 2008 Full Review Source: EURWeb
EURWeb of the great under-seen cinema gems of the 1960s.

July 17, 2008 Full Review Source: Film Journal International
Film Journal International

Audience Reviews for The Exiles

Watching The Exiles is like watching the death of an ancient culture. What the European settlers and subsequent generations have done to the native American is horrific but the fact that so many of the indigenous people have now turned their backs to their culture is heartbreaking. The Exiles shows the bright lights that lead the youth away from the reservations and the harsh reality that they will never fit in but can never go back. A lost generation in the flesh with dreams of a new America but with traditions in their blood that they will never be able to shake off, a small society at war with themselves. Bleak in content but beautiful visually. An important insight and a slice of modern American history.
February 14, 2014

Super Reviewer

it is a time capsule of los angeles and a moving portrait of young urban indians in the late 1950s. featuring untrained actors who are startlingly natural and beautiful b/w photography of an LA that has changed beyond recognition, the film follows young men on a friday night of drinking from barhopping to their after party high above the city, where they drum and dance to recall their faraway homes. a remarkable film
June 15, 2012
Stella Dallas

Super Reviewer

I don't know how to react to this film. Am I supposed to empathize with these lazy, sluggish Indian men? Aimless, callous, unemployed spongers who do nothing but drink, smoke, flirt, fight and play cards? It's as if the script aims to reinforce negative stereotypes.

"The Exiles" has virtually no dramatic shape. The men do nothing useful, while the women work and quietly endure their unhappiness. The story spans about a day, and nothing transformative occurs. And most of the dialogue and ambient noise is awkwardly looped in post-production -- this is alienating. In particular, the casual chatter in bars and cafes is painfully stiff.

The filmmakers deserve credit for making a worthwhile sociological statement on a non-existent budget but, beyond that, there's little to recommend "The Exiles" beyond some interesting glimpses of early-'60s Los Angeles.
April 4, 2012
Eric Broome

Super Reviewer

[font=Century Gothic]At its best when photographing the exteriors of a lost city, "The Exiles" is an ethnographic docudrama about a trio of American Indians(Yvonne Williams, Homer Nish & Tom Reynolds) over a twelve hour period in Los Angeles. The men hang out, play poker, and get drunk. For them, they have lost confidence in the future, being twice removed from their traditional lives. Yvonne who is pregnant is lonely as she goes to the movies while the men make the rounds before spending the night at a friend's place. For herself, any hope for the future she reserves for her unborn child for whom she is staying in the city to give him a better chance at leading a rewarding life.[/font]
April 4, 2012
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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