INTRUDER IN THE DUST (1949). Director: Clarence Brown.
When a white man is shot in the back, a lynch mob wants to string up the black man, Lucas Beauchamp (Juano Hernandez), who was near him at the time, even though the bullet couldn't have come from his gun. A young man, Chick (Claude Jarman, Jr.), importunes his uncle John (David Brian) to represent Lucas, and together they try to ferret out the truth. Elizabeth Patterson has a great scene as the elderly Miss Habersham holding off the angry mob who has come to the jail to grab and string up Lucas. William Faulkner's novel has sort of been reduced to a murder mystery, but the film is effective and holds the attention. Hernandez and young Jarman are very good, but a fairly wooden David Brian is miscast as John. To be fair, John isn't really a kindly type like Gregory Peck in Mockingbird (and his attitude toward Lucas is consistently patronizing), but Brian rattles off his lines without the slightest trace of nuance or even much acting ability. [Brian was better playing a gangster to Joan Crawford's gun moll in a couple of pictures.] One assumes Brian was a contract player and the studio insisted on his use.
Verdict: Okay, but nothing special. **.