Sunday, March 26, 2023

"Intruder in the Dust" breaks new ground and stars David Brian, Claude Jarman Jr., and Juano Hernandez

Intruder in the Dust (1949) was an American crime drama directed by Clarence Brown and starring David Brian, Claude Jarman Jr., and Juano Hernandez. The supporting cast includes Elizabeth Patterson, Porter Hall, and Will Greer. The film is based on the novel of the same name written by William Faulkner published in 1948. The cinematography was by Robert Surtees (Ben-Hur 1959), and the music was by Adolph Deutsch.

When Lucas Beauchamp (Hernandez) is arrested for shooting a white man in the back, it turns his small southern town upside down. Accused of killing Vinson Gowrie (David Clarke), Beauchamp, a black man, is immediately considered guilty by the majority white population.

After he is arrested, Beauchamp asks Chick Mallison (Jarman Jr.) to ask his uncle, John Gavin Stephens, a lawyer, to defend him. When Chick's uncle isn't making any progress in his defense of Beauchamp, Chick, his black friend Aleck, and Miss Eunice Habersham (Elizabeth Patterson) take matters into their own hands.

What Chick, Aleck, and Miss Habersham discover may save Beauchamp's life.

Juano Hernandez and David Brian

Clarence Brown (1890 – 1987) was an American film director.  Brown was born in Massachusetts but moved to Tennessee when he was 11. After initially working in the automobile industry, Brown was hired by the Peerless (film) Studio in Fort Lee, New Jersey. He became an assistant director working under French director Maurice Tourneur, father of future director Jacques Tourneur (Out of the Past). After serving in World War I, Brown picked up his directing career and secured a contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1924. He remained at M-G-M until the mid-1950s. At M-G-M, Brown directed Joan Crawford six times and Greta Garbo seven. Brown is famous for directing Garbo in her first talking picture, Anna Christie (1930). Brown was nominated six times for Best Director but never won an Oscar. His films were nominated for a total of 38 Academy Awards. Some of Brown’s films include Anna Karenina (1935), Wife vs. Secretary (1936), The Rains Came (1939), The White Cliffs of Dover (1944), National Velvet (1944), and The Yearling (1946).

David Brian (1914 – 1993) was an American stage, film, and television actor. His most famous role was as the lawyer in Intruder in the Dust for which he was nominated for a Golden Globe Award. Brian also had lead roles in Flamingo Road (1949), The Damned Don’t Cry (1950), This Woman is Dangerous (1952), Million Dollar Mermaid (1952), Pocketful of Miracles (1961), and How the West Was Won (1962).

Claude Jarman Jr. (1934 - ) is an American former child actor. He was the director of the San Francisco International Film Festival, and the former director of Cultural Affairs for the City of San Francisco. Jarman was discovered in a nationwide talent search by M-G-M. Jarman was cast as the lead in The Yearling (1946). For his performance, he received a special Academy Award for outstanding child actor of 1946. Jarman made a total of 11 films. When he reached his twenties, Jarman was dissatisfied with the roles he was getting so he moved back to Tennessee to finish college at Vanderbilt University. His last film role was in Disney’s The Great Locomotive Chase (1956).

Juano Hernandez (1896 – 1970) was a Puerto Rican stage, film, and television actor. He worked in the silent film The Life of General Villa (1914). He made his talking picture debut in Oscar Micheaux’s The Girl from Chicago (1932), a film directed at black audiences. Hernandez’s most famous role was in Intruder in the Dust. For that role, he was nominated for the Golden Globe Award, “New Star of the Year.” Other films Hernandez appeared in include Young Man with a Horn (1950), Stars in My Crown (1950), and The Breaking Point (1950). Later films include The Pawnbroker (1964), The Reivers (1969), and They Call Me Mister Tibbs (1970), his last film role.

Elizabeth Patterson (1874 – 1966) was an American film and stage actress. She is probably best remembered today as Mrs. Trumbull on the classic television comedy I Love Lucy. Patterson started out in silent films in 1926. She transitioned to sound pictures and worked steadily in film for more than four decades. Some of Patterson’s films include Dinner at Eight (1933), So Red the Rose (1935), The Story of Alexander Graham Bell (1939), Remember the Night (1940), Hail the Conquering Hero (1944), and Little Women (1949).

Elizabeth Patterson, David Brian, and Will Geer

Intruder in the Dust trivia

  • The film was released several weeks after Pinky, considered the first mainstream American film to deal with racial prejudice.
  • Although the film was a critical success, it failed to make back its investment.
  • Filming took place on location in Oxford, Mississippi, where William Faulkner lived.
  • Director Brown directed Claude Jarman Jr. to his juvenile Academy Award in The Yearling.
  • Two of the school pennants on Chick’s bedroom wall were from the fictional town of Jefferson, MS, the setting for the film, and Carvel, the name of the high school in the Andy Hardy movies.
  • William Faulkner was paid $50,000 for the film rights to his novel.

To watch the film on YouTube, click on the link below.

To join the discussion on April 3, 2023, at 6:30 p.m., click here. Once you RSVP, you will receive an invitation along with a link to the discussion on Zoom.

Discussion questions

  1. Were you surprised to discover that this film was made by M-G-M in 1949?
  2. Do you think this was an accurate portrayal of segregation in the 1940s South?
  3. What did you think of the performances? Did any one performance stand out to you?
  4. Did you relate to any of the characters? Which one?
  5. Did you find the ending satisfying/realistic?
  6. Were you surprised by anything?

1 comment:

  1. I saw this for the first time last year, after having it in my collection for DECADES. I really enjoyed it. I always like seeing Juano Hernandez, and I know David Brian from his teamings with Joan Crawford. I look forward to watching this again -- and sharing it with my mom!


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