Intruder in the Dust (1949) - Rotten Tomatoes

Intruder in the Dust (1949)

Intruder in the Dust (1949)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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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.
Classics , Drama
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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
Alberta Dismon
as Paralee
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 (6) | Top Critics (1)

Denis' film -- which may be her most intricately constructed and intensely beautiful to date -- is one that transcends words and stories, a movie to be felt rather than rationalized.

Full Review… | March 16, 2006
L.A. Weekly
Top Critic

Powerhouse mix of racial drama and mystery, vividly shot on location in Mississippi.

Full Review… | August 2, 2013
Classic Film and Television

Paula Deen apologists, take note: This MGM adaptation of Faulkner's novel demonstrates that the N-word was recognized as ugly and hurtful even in 1949 -- even in Mississippi, where it certainly was heard with some frequency.

Full Review… | July 12, 2013
Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)

A brilliantly accomplished "racial bias" cycle film of the 1940s.

Full Review… | February 5, 2005
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Audience Reviews for Intruder in the Dust


Writer Ralph Ellison celebrated the existence of this film in his essay "The Shadow and the Act". He said that although other post-War films did make strides in portraying black folks sympathetically, this was the first that would not have been hooted at by any all-black audience. That is, its portrayal of racial roles and its resolution of racial tensions is at least honest. That's in contrast to other films of the time that attempted to deal with race, like Pinky, Lost Boundaries, and Home of the Brave. Plus there's a pretty good murder mystery at the center. A cultural landmark that helped get us over the ugly cinematic hump put in place by The Birth of a Nation.

Rex Zenor
Rex Zenor

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