Sunday Editor’s Pick: Roger Corman doc plus The Intruder (1962)

by on October 10, 2011Posted in: Editor's Pick

Playing Sun Oct 16 at 1:30 at Film Society of Lincoln Center [Program & Tix]
NYFF comes to a close this Sunday evening, but not before a celebration of the King of the B’s. Extra screening tip! Corman collaborator Joe Dante introduces his archival print of The Intruder the night before (Sat Oct 15) in MoMA’s annual “To Save and Project” series, at 8:00.


Don R. Lewis for Film Threat:

Film fans know Corman is responsible for some of the greatest schlock and exploitation films we’ve ever seen that along the gave us seedling performances from Jack Nicholson, Dick Miller and Pam Grier. We also know Corman gave starts to directors like Ron Howard, Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Copploa, Joe Dante and John Sayles. All of the aforementioned are in “Corman’s World” to speak of the man, the myth and the legend who made cheap movies that never lost their money at the box office.


Check out the trailer:


Corman and William Shatner reminisce about the The Intruder:

Matt Goldberg for Collider:

Despite Corman’s reputation for exploitation films, Stapleton manages to come up with a strong argument about how Corman’s films, while cheap and not “Art-with-a-Capital-A”, still have their own themes and tonality.  Looking at a fraction of Corman’s filmography (and it would be a chore to see pieces from all of the 394 films that he’s produced so far), Stapleton shows that Corman possesses a strong anti-authoritarian tone and colors it with irreverence.  While it’s not surprising that someone who has chosen to work outside the studio system would be anti-authoritarian, the tone doesn’t arise from a vendetta against Hollywood or any deep-seated resentment.  Corman jokes that before he became a filmmaker, he spent two years in the Navy and they were the worst years of his life.  While the point about Corman’s tone isn’t groundbreaking, it’s noteworthy because the audience needs to understand that exploitation films aren’t necessarily soulless.


Dennis Harvey in Variety:

A delightful tribute, “Corman’s World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel” chronicles the six-decade (so far) career of the U.S. film industry’s most diverse, dogged and resourceful low-budget producer-director-entrepeneur, painting the soft-spoken Roger Corman as an indie cinema trailbrazer as well as an extraordinary conduit for new talent.


Xan Brooks interviewing Corman in The Guardian:

He loved Bergman, Fellini and Kurosawa and later helped distribute their films in the US. If those were the sort of films that Corman liked, I wonder, why he didn’t try to make them himself?


“Well, firstly I’m not sure I have the ability to make that type of film,” he says. “But secondly it’s an economic situation. All of those films were made in Europe with government subsidies. Fellini, Bergman, Truffaut did not have the necessity of having to earn their money back and so they were free to do what they liked. In the US it’s different. It’s a money-making industry, so that’s what you have to do.”




By the late 1970s, the American film industry had moved on, too. The likes of Jaws and Star Wars showed that Hollywood could do Corman-style movies on a bigger budget, with higher production values, and then distribute them more widely. Having led the pack for so long, the producer now found himself chasing it. His films, hitherto regarded as junky, disreputable trailblazers, became regarded as low-budget knock-offs of studio hits.


It transpires that Corman is still making movies; still shooting his Dinosharks and Piranhacondas. Still ordering his actors to scream and still dumping gallons of fake blood into the Gulf of Mexico. But the business has changed. Right now, he says, it’s almost impossible for low-budget films to find a theatrical release, which has become a major frustration.


In the meantime, he can look back over a cv that trails on and on, through title after title. Some of these films he can’t even remember making. Others (The Masque of the Red Death, The Man With the X-Ray Eyes, The Intruder) he continues to cherish to this day. “A while back I was talking to an English art critic at a dinner party,” he tells me. “And he said that motion pictures weren’t art. And I thought, well, I’m going to needle this guy. I said, ‘Not only are motion pictures art, they are the only art.’ On the basis that all other art forms have their origins in antiquity and are therefore static. Movies are the only modern art form because they embody movement, which could not be done before, and because they are both an art and a business. They are a compromised art but that’s entirely fitting, because we live in a compromised world.”


Drew McWeeny at HitFix:

The film traces the highs and lows of Corman’s career, and I’m glad there’s special attention paid to his film “The Intruder,” based on the Charles Beaumont novel.  It is one of the few overt bombs that Corman ever released, the story of a white supremacist (William Shatner in one of his first leading roles) who comes down to the integration-era South to ensure that the whites in a small southern community stay afraid and dangerous.  It’s a brutal, honest movie about how tense the “new South” was in those early days of the civil rights movement in America, and Corman and his brother privately financed the film when no studio would touch it.  Sure enough, the film died a miserable commercial death.  America wasn’t ready for a film like that, with the issue laid bare, and Corman paid the price for it.


Time Out (London) on The Intruder:

Raw-edged and startling, scripted by Charles Beaumont from his own novel based on real-life rabble-rouser John Kasper, Corman’s film about Southern desegregation was shot on location in Missouri in a mere three weeks, with threats and obstruction from white locals mirroring the fictional action. Adam Cramer (Shatner, mesmerising) represents an organisation which seeks to stop the process of educational desegregation and thus frustrate plans of the ‘Communist front headed by Jews’ to ‘mongrelise’ society. Cramer is an insidious outsider whose impassioned speeches rouse the populace; the result is heightened Klu Klux Klan activity, attacks on black families and a liberal white newspaper editor, a near-hanging. Complex characterisation is sacrificed in the interests of representing the broad socio-political issues. Emotions intensify in accord with searing summer temperatures; visuals emphasise the economic disparities, memorably in shots of the black ghetto and of Cramer in his pristine white suit. Chilling, and especially at the moment Cramer delivers his battle-cry, ‘This is just the beginning’, painfully prophetic.


J. Hoberman for the Village Voice:

Possibly the most alarming B movie of 1962, Roger Corman’s anti-segregationist screen-scorcher, shot on location in an Ozark town, is both ferociously topical and impressively timeless. William Shatner’s pre Star Trek turn as the ultimate rabble-rousing white devil is a performance as unprecedented in its way as Andy Griffith’s in A Face in the Crowd.



 Wheeler Winston Dixon for Senses of Cinema:

It was also during this period that Corman produced his most personal film, The Intruder (1961), featuring a very young William Shatner as a virulent racist determined to stir up trouble in a small Southern town. Shot in gritty black and white for a budget of $90,000, using local actors and no permits, the film received superb reviews, but failed at the box office. Corman, who had mortgaged his house to partially bankroll the project, was deeply upset. While no studio, even AIP, would touch the project, Corman had still believed intensely in the message of the film, that racism was a cancer on American society that had to be excised at all costs. Yet, in the wake of the film’s commercial failure, Corman began to back away from films with an overt message, and concentrated on genre films that contained coded social commentary within a highly commercial genre framework. This was a strategy that he would pursue for the rest of his career as a filmmaker; after the financial disaster of The Intruder, Corman never again forgot the importance of the bottom line.


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