Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Klansman (1974)

Wattya think about this story: William Alexander, the producer, found five million dollars (which was the most expensive movie for an afro-american producer of that time), hired Samuel Fuller to write and direct a movie with Lee Marvin and Richard Burton about racism in a small redneck town. Distributor Paramount got nervous, because of the controversial subject, demanded so much rewrites that Fuller walked of the project and good old hired gun Terence Young stepped in to direct instead. Marvin and Burton both had deep problems with alcohol at this time which contributed to the – at least with Burton – interesting acting style of the movie. Yes, this is The Klansman – probably the best klansploitation ever made!

Lee Marvin is Sheriff Track Bascomb, a member of the KKK, but still pro enough to do his work as a cop without letting his membership in this awful racist organisation show his way to much. Up on a mountain sits Breck (Richard Burton), a quite liberal recluse who lets afro-americans live on his mountain for free, safe from the bastards down in town. One night the wife of one of the Klan-members, Linda Evans by the way, gets raped by a black man and this starts a furious attempt from the KKK to find the guilty one. They find one and kill him – but it’s of course the wrong dude and now hell has broken loose!

Now, I guess most people – including me – would say that The Klansman is a sleazy exploitation movie with violence, rapes, nudity and excellent drunk acting from especially Richard Burton (who looks like a zombie most of the time, Lee Marvin looks healthier)… and there’s not much else to say about it. How Paramount could be afraid of the original script and demanded rewrites that led to this movie is insane! This is probably even more offensive, in all kinds of ways – but still makes it one helluva fantastic exploitation-movie with a big, stylish look and great directing and action-scenes from Terence Young.

O.J. Simpson is young and hot, Lola Falana is damn cool as the communist trying to make peace in the small town, Cameron Mitchell is insanely evil as vice sheriff Butt Cutt Cates! It’s clearly one of the best roles Mitchell ever made during the seventies. The dialogue is shock-filled with the N-word… and worse, and the language makes even me a bit embarrassed! The best line is when Linda Evans, raped the night before, enters the church and makes one old woman stand up and cry out: ‎"I can smell nigger on her! Truly smell nigger on her!”.

The Klansman is of course trash, but great and good-looking trash. It’s out on a very nice DVD in Scandinavia. Fullscreen, but quite clear and crisp quality and uncut with all the squibs and sleazy nude-scenes. A classic in it’s on perverted way, and one of those movies that never fail to bore me!


lizzardking said...

Well, you sold me on this!

raculfright_13 said...

a copy of "The Klansman" is available for free at the Internet Archive. Doubt it's uncut though.