The Young One (1960)
Tuesday, Apr 02, 2019, 7:00PM
Osher Lecture Hall
800 Chestnut Street, San Francisco, CA 94133
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The Young One (1960, La Joven; Island of Shame in the UK)
96 minutes; DVD; Cannes Film Festival award winner

Screening followed by panel discussion

James Travers, in a 2013 review for, states that Producer George Pepper’s (alias George P. Werker’s) The Young One, is in many respects Spanish director Luis Buñuel’s “most remarkable film, although bizarrely it is often omitted from discussions of his work and remains his most neglected and underrated film…. Primarily, it is a film which condemns racial prejudice, and was ahead of its time… It was particularly ill-received in America, where the narrow-minded bigotry of some prominent critics consigned it to almost immediate oblivion….” The film was a winner at the 1960 Cannes Film Festival and received highly positive reviews outside the United States, where it was not censored. This showing at San Francisco Art Institute will be one of the rare screenings in the United States to grant Buñuel’s “The Young One” the spotlight it deserves after over half a century of silence.

This prescient, dark drama about racism and pedophilia was adapted from Peter Matthiessen's story “Travelin' Man” by screenwriter Hugo Butler (alias H.B. Addis) at Producer George Pepper’s urging.

A black jazz musician Traver (Bernie Hamilton) is on the run from a Southern lynch mob after being falsely accused of raping a white woman. He finds his way to a small island near the Carolina coast. The only inhabitants are a racist game warden Miller (Zachary Scott) and Evalyn (Kate Meersman), the lovely 13-year-old granddaughter of Miller's recently deceased alcoholic handyman. Miller wastes no time making advances on the vulnerable beauty.

Traver befriends Evalyn while Miller is in town for the day, and gives her some money in exchange for some food and one of Miller's shotguns. When Miller returns and learns about Traver, he hunts him down. Traver and Evvie’s fates are at stake in this edgy tale that preceded Stanley Kubrick’s 1962 film based on Vladimir Nabokov’s novel about under-aged Lolita.

Buñuel and Butler departed from the original story by fabricating Evvie’s character, transforming the tale from one condemning racism to a far more sinister story about power relationships, sexism, racism and hypocrisy under capitalism.


Following this final screening of the festival will be a panel discussion focusing on first-hand accounts of US cold war repression from survivors of the internationalist exile community in Mexico, parallels to today’s political climate, lessons learned and survival and circumvention tips.

This event is part of SFAI’s Visiting Artist + Lecture Series presents BREAKING THROUGH THE BLACKLIST FILM FEST: THE BUÑUEL-BUTLER-PEPPER TRIO.