Intruder in the Dust (1949): Clarence Brown’s Screen Version of Faulkner Novel, Starring David Brian and Juano Hernandez

Clarence Brown’s crime drama, Intruder in the Dust, closely follows the Faulkner novel of the same title upon which it is based.

The story centers on Lucas Beauchamp (well played by Juano Hernandez), a rich, respectable black man, who is unjustly accused of murdering a white man.

At the time of release, Intruder in the Dust was critically acclaimed by major reviewers, such as Bosley Crowther of the New York Times.  It was even praised by author Faulkner, who reportedly said: “I’m not much of a moviegoer, but I did see that one.  I thought it was a fine job,  that Juano Hernandez is a fine actor–and man, too.

The film was not a commercial success, its box-office gross of less than $1 million barely recouped its budget.  Nonetheless, it is important both historically and sociologically in its portrayal of African Americans in mainstream Hollywood cinema, offering a major role to black actor Hernandez.

A year later, in 1950, Sidney Poitier, still the most influential black actor of all time, would make his splashy screen debut, in Mankiewicz’s No Way Out.

The movie also is credited for helping to launch a cycle of films dealing with various social issues and problems–including interracial conflicts–that plagued American society at large.