Caxton, a small town in the southern United States, in the 1950s. A man in a white suit gets out of a bus, suitcase in hand, and goes to the nearest hotel. His name is Adam Cramer and he works for a “social purpose” organization. It is no coincidence that he is in Caxton, the city having recently passed a law in favor of desegregation, authorizing a quota of black students to integrate a high school attended by whites. Adam Cramer wants to survey residents to find out what they think of this reform. This charismatic and smooth-talking man will quickly stir up trouble in the city...
Director known for his many genre films, including the famous adaptations of Edgar Allan Poe with actor Vincent Price, Roger Corman is also the author of a masterpiece of film noir, The Intruder , shot in 1962. The writer and television screenwriter Charles Beaumont here adapts his own novel, written two years earlier.
It is the actor William Shatner, future captain Kirk in Star Trek , who embodies Adam Cramer: beneath his air of ideal son-in-law hides a formidable preacher and a highly dangerous troublemaker. Roger Corman films him from all angles, with a predilection for low-angle shots during scenes where he harangues the crowd, illustrating the authority and power that this character wields. Because Cramer is a born manipulator who tells the crowd what they want to hear, stirring up everyone's most unhealthy impulses, which will inexorably spill over into violence.
The filming took place on location, with Corman and his crew traveling to various towns in Missouri, recruiting locals to act as extras. Few of them tasted the irony of the subject and took Adam Cramer's speeches seriously, cheering the character during his violent diatribes. When the inhabitants realized the deception, the team had to leave as quickly as possible, escorted by the local police.
A veritable political rant, The Intruder recalls the great hours of Italian neorealism through this testimony to a time when hatred, fear of others and intolerance were still the norm in a certain America.
Despite a rave critical reception, The Intruder did not enjoy the same public success – which led Corman to make only entertainment films thereafter. The filmmaker will however try to bring it out under two other titles , I Hate Your Guts and Shame , which he considered more catchy and provocative. Ironically, The Intruder is now considered his best film. Fifty years later, it is clear that this work has not aged a single wrinkle: its description of the rise of populism and the manipulation of crowds remains disturbingly topical.
THE INTRUDER (1962 – B&W – 84 mins) new restoration
SUPPLEMENTS * . MEMORIES OF "THE INTRUDER" (10 mins) Director Roger Corman and actor William Shatner recount their anecdotes about the grueling filming of The Intruder , made in the heart of segregationist America, and the film's recent rehabilitation, initiated in Europe.