Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Southern Scenes

Intruder in the Dust is a terrific film about race relations from the 40's. A surly black small holder is arrested for shooting a whitey in the back and is counting the hours before the locals get worked up to optimal lynching speed but a young boy decides he's going to help prove his innocence and starts investigating the crime despite considerable opposition. Given it's age this is a remarkably nuanced film that kept me guessing right till the end and it's unfamiliar cast brought a realism to proceedings that might have been obscured by bigger stars.

Monte Hellman made some unusual films and Cockfighter, about a handler who refuses to speak until he's won the coveted Cockfighter of the Year medal, displays the same quirky, quiet genius apparent in Two-Lane Blacktop & The Shooting. Warren Oates stars as the dissolute Frank Mansfield who drinks and gambles himself into a corner but still doggedly strives to reach the pinnacle of his sport and win the love of an old flame. Though it's a bit simplistic it's got bags of sweaty southern atmosphere and Oates gives a charismatic performance despite having a handful of lines. One thing I should mention though is that there's plenty of duelling cock action so I guess if you're a animal lover you're probably not going to want to watch it.

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