Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Exiles

Film Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Docudrama from Fifties Captures Indians Partying in L.A.

The Exiles strikes me as less a convincing docudrama than an amusing amalgam of period footage from the Fifties overlaid with a trite soundtrack of dialogue that doesn’t pass the smell, or should I say the ear test. The upshot is that because the movie never feels authentic, it’s hard to invest emotionally in its slight storyline or in the plight of any of its characters.
The picture was shot in 1958 by Kent Mackenzie who wanted to capture on film a day in the lives of young Native Americans from the reservation who had settled in the Bunker Hill section of Los Angeles. The late Mackenzie wrote the script which his well-rehearsed cast executed, although most of their lines were later lip-synched during post-production, and it shows.
After about five minutes of watching The Exiles, you’re wondering is this it? Is it ever going to become realistic? But it never does. I’m not sure what to make of it, or why it’s supposed to be of interest. I can relate that it’s little more than a very tame, dubbed home movie of partying Indians mugging for the camera, but never working up the nerve to do anything daring.
The most remarkable aspect about the annoying experience was that I managed to stay awake from beginning to end. I figured that there had to be a reason why it took a half century for The Exiles to be released in theaters. It must be that enough time has passed to attract an audienc as a nostalgic curiosity rather than as a conventional flick offering a satisfying cinematic experience.

Fair (1 star)
In black and white
Running time: 72 minutes
Studio: Milestone Films

To see a trailer of The Exiles, visit:

1 comment:

Brian Sholis said...

Please note Amy Taubin's review of the film, just published at

Thank you.

Brian Sholis Editor