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Intruder in the Dust(1949)

The world of William Faulkner was not one in which the Golden Age of Hollywood would normally set its movies. In fact, this adaptation of his 1948 tale of a proud black man threatened with lynching when he’s accused of murder was only the third of his works to be filmed. MGM producer-director Clarence Brown, an expert at capturing American life on screen, was a friend of Faulkner’s and pushed the studio to option the book. Although he couldn’t work on the film officially because he was a contract writer for hire at Warner Bros., Faulkner helped the company scout locations in his native Mississippi, advised on the script and even coached leading man Juano Hernandez on his accent. This was the first major Hollywood film for Hernandez, who had acted previously in independently produced race films, and he was the breakout star of the film. Brown matched him with a solid Hollywood cast, including David Brian as his lawyer, Claude Jarman, Jr., who had starred in Brown’s The Yearling (1946), as the young man fighting to clear his name and Elizabeth Patterson as their elderly ally. Although the film lost money at the box office, it would later be acclaimed as groundbreaking in the depiction of African-American lives on screen. (d. Clarence Brown, 87m, 35mm)

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