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The Exiles (1961)

Mary Donahue , Homer Nish , Kent Mackenzie  |  NR |  DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Mary Donahue, Homer Nish, Yvonne Williams, Tommy Reynolds
  • Directors: Kent Mackenzie
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Oscilloscope Laboratories/Milestone Cinematheque
  • DVD Release Date: November 17, 2009
  • Run Time: 72 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B002O34URU
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #96,817 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Exiles" on IMDb

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Originally completed in 1961 but never released theatrically, The Exiles is a rediscovered masterpiece that lay dormant in the archives for over 45 years. The Exiles chronicles one night in the lives of young Native American men and women living in the Bunker Hill district of Los Angeles. A formally wealthy neighborhood of decayed Victorian mansions and skid-row apartment buildings. Gritty, realistic and far ahead of its time made in a period when Hollywood films featured Native Americans as noble savages. Using a script created exclusively from recorded interviews with the participants and their friends, the film follows a group of exiles - transplants from Southwest reservations - as they flirt, drink, party, fight, and dance.


A precious document of a vanished culture! --Richard Corlis, Time Magazine

CRITICS PICK. Enthralling and breathtakingly gorgeous, it s almost astonishing that this find languished in the archives for so long --Sara Cardace, New York Magazine

Enthralling and breathtakingly gorgeous! --New York Magazine

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Exiles November 9, 2009
"The Exiles" is another cinematic gem rescued from oblivion by the good folks at Milestone Film and Video. Directed by the late Kent Mackenzie, not long after he graduated from the University of Southern California, the film give us a rare glance at life of Native Americans in the big city, providing us with a unique and very important document of our times.

The movie adequately opens with numerous beautiful, historical photos - mostly portraits of Native Americans throughout time --, and right away we are told that "white men sent Indians to reservations, but some went to the city," and we immediately meet one of the several characters that we'll see in the next 72 minutes. We follow them in what turns out to be great part of a day in their lives, beginning when pregnant Yvonne arrives home one afternoon, where she finds several mostly unemployed men, bored as they could possible be, wasting time in nonsense. From then on, we follow them into their night rituals. The women mostly stay home or go to the movies; the men, however, have or apparently have all the fun. They go gambling, partying, drinking, getting high, and skirt-chasing. They do this until the sun rises, and repeat this destructive cycle every day.

"The Exiles" is an unpretentious, sincere film, done with the heart, and the director apparently allowed the actors - mostly Native Americans -- to be themselves and play their culture. This exceptional movie depicts a well-known, sad part of our society, with defeated human beings, with defeated minds, as the main characters. It doesn't matter where the plot takes place - the city or the reservation --, the stories are always the same.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The greatest "night" film ever? November 23, 2009
By Jobla
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Whether you consider this film to be docudrama or documentary (a case could be made for either), THE EXILES is one of the greatest "night" films ever made. If you asked Mr. Peabody to fire up the wayback machine and transport you to Los Angeles in 1958 for a night on the town (when most of the film's action was actually filmed), this is what you might see. In other words, the production provides a brilliant time capsule of a specific time and place. The nighttime cinematography is breathtaking, rivaling that of the best film noir efforts. The ambience is punctuated by many forgotten vintage rock/blues/doo-wop songs playing constantly in the background as the characters move from place to place. Some of that music is instrumental tracks performed by the Revels.

The period is further brought to life via some of the accompanying featurettes. There are documentary studies of Bunker Hill and Angels Flight (the funicular railway) that reveal the grandeur that had fallen into decay by 1958. There are also some native American featurettes.

The two-disc set has something for everyone, spanning elements of history, architecture, sociology, and psychology. The film is no musty lecture, but a living document that brings the past back to life. The DVD's transfer and supplemental features are superb.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a night in LA . . . May 26, 2010
Excellent docudrama about young Native Americans living in central Los Angeles circa 1960. The film vividly captures a time and place as it follows a half dozen characters during a night of bar hopping, cruising around town, and gathering on a hilltop overlooking the city for drumming and singing. Other reviewers have noted the down-beat tone of the film, but it is also full of comic moments and immense energy, which is reflected in the terrific rock-and-roll soundtrack (all original music for the film).

Beautifully photographed in black and white with striking night-time street scenes, the original Angels Flight funicular, the old houses on Bunker Hill and the tunnel under it. Mackenzie's camera captures wonderful unscripted details in the crowded bar scenes, and the performances of his nonprofessional cast seem natural and spontaneous. Originally made as a student film at USC, "The Exiles" has stood up remarkably well for its 50 years and rewards viewers with a multi-layered portrayal of lives lived in a moment of history. Two-disc set with extensive supporting materials.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars EXCELLENT February 10, 2014
By G
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
As Sherman Alexie stated in the commentary, the director had to have known about and been very close to Indins to tell this story the way he did. An incredible and unbiased look into the lives of a handful of natives living off the rez. Beautifully shot too. Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Valuable document of a lost time, place, and people June 29, 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Few remember the history of Bunker Hill or the power of real, raw cinema verite. This film has both--a group of friends, Native Americans exiled to the poverty of Bunker Hill in Los Angeles, during a night when each of them is out searching.

If you've had enough of screenplay-guru-influenced, pre-digested American film, buy or rent this movie today!
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