Intruder in the Dust

Director: Clarence Brown
Year Released: 1949
Rating: 3.5

In Oxford, Mississippi, Lucas Beauchamp (Juano Hernandez) - an African-American -  is accused of shooting Vinson Gowrie (David Clarke) in the back and immediately placed in jail where a mob hovers around the place eager to take him out, but young Chick Mallison (Claude Jarman Jr.) doesn't believe he did it, so with the help of Ms. Habersham (Elizabeth Patterson) and black teenager Aleck (Elzie Emanuel) they set out to "solve" what happened ... while Chick's Uncle John (David Brian), a lawyer, remains skeptical.  Hollywood's handling of the topic of racism (although usually well-intended) hasn't always been stellar - we can't (and shouldn't) forget Birth of a Nation exists - but I think this, while a little rough in parts, is smart and efficiently told ... and it acknowledges that even in educated men prejudices exist (as we've seen in America for the last few years, racist tension lingers and has been stoked by members of a certain extremist political faction).  What helps tremendously is that the source material was by Nobel Prize winning novelist William Faulkner (who allegedly helped out with the production), and he wasn't too displeased with the finished result.  One of the final shots, of a stunned crowd confronting its own collective shame when they realize they were wrong, speaks volumes about where we were as a country ... and where we still are.