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The Klansman could be one of two things. It is either a brave exploration of
racial hatred and violence in the US Deep South. Or, it is a reckless film
which is trying to generate entertainment by exploiting racial tension. I
don't agree with the majority of critics who say that this film is violent
and trashy rubbish.... in my eyes, it poses enough interesting questions and
pushes the audience out of their comfort zone sufficiently to be a
worthwhile film. I wouldn't say that it's a great, misunderstood
masterpiece, but it is definitely a film that needs reappraisal.
The story is set in Atoka County, Alabama, where race relations are balanced on a knife edge. The rape of a white woman by a negro triggers off a campaign of Ku Klux Klan violence, including the castration of a black youth, which in turn leads to retaliation by black extremists such as O.J. Simpson. Thrown into the struggles are Lee Marvin (the town sherriff who knows that racism is bad but tolerates it in order to cling to a degree of order) and Richard Burton (a landowner who sympathises with blacks, but is haunted by memories of what the Klan did to his grand father).
The film contains at least one unwatchable rape scene and some tasteless dialogue. It also suffers because Burton is so clearly miscast as a southern sympathiser (his accent is dodgy and he seems disinterested in the story). However, it takes a highly chraged theme and deals with it interestingly and provocatively. The violence jolts you out of your chair and forces you to think about the two sides of the argument. The climax is memorable and leaves you feeling empty and sick, especially at the waste of life caused by the single-minded, lethal actions of racist extremists.
A decent film, then, worth seeing for yourself. The critics got this one wrong. Give it a go.
I'd heard a lot ABOUT 'The Klansman' but had never seen it before, and hearing the behind the scenes stories (original director an co-writer Sam Fuller walking off set, stars Lee Marvin and Richard Burton both being allegedly so drunk they couldn't remember making it!) I imagined that it was going to be one of the worst movies ever made. It isn't. Now it isn't all that good, mind you, but it's watchable b-grade trash, and Marvin puts in a good performance, drunk or not. Burton's accent is I agree not too good but he is okay, especially if he like Marvin was as drunk as they say he was. The rest of the cast includes the notorious O.J. Simpson as a one man black revolutionary with a gun and an attitude, 'The Big Lebowski's David Huddleston is a racist mayor, and legendary character actor Cameron Mitchell ('Hombre', 'Ride In The Whirlwind', 'The Rebel Rousers',etc.) as the wonderfully named Butt Butt Cates, the later two both being members of the KKK. Linda Evans also appears as a rape victim who sets off a chain of events which end off in violence and tragedy. The main problem with the movie, and this is most likely because of the drama off camera, is that the movie can't decide whether it's trying to be a serious message movie or an exploitation film using racism as an excuse for some sensationalistic thrills. 'Mandingo' made the following year (and its sequel 'Drum') managed to juggle both approaches with a little more success, but 'The Klansman' suffers for its lack of a clear direction. Even so, this movie is nowhere near as bad as many people claim (people who I imagine have never actually WATCHED it) and is still reasonably entertaining, especially if , like 'Reservoir Dogs' Mr Blonde, you are a big Lee Marvin fan.
Hard-edge social drama centers around racial conflicts and is one of
the most strange cinematic forays in this theme. The film begins with a
bill captioning : ¨Drive carefully you are in Wallace County¨. This is
the tale of a sheriff (Lee Marvin) in an US Southern town and a rich
owner (Richard Burton) who protects the black men. Marvin receives a
huge amount of hostility from the non-tolerant white establishment
making his job very hard and every around has to decide the values
really lie. The Ku Klux Klan (comes from Greek, Ku Klus that means band
or circle and Klan that means family) pursues and mistreats the black
people and the sheriff attempting to keep peace on racial tensions.
When a young woman has been violently raped (Linda Evans), the white
men immediately declare the culpability an African-American named Garth
(O.J.Simson). He flees to the backwoods and wishes revenge. Meanwhile
the Klansmen form some lynching party hunts and pursue him. The young
on the run because the violent group seek to destroy him. But the
racist posse kidnaps a beautiful African-American (Lola Falana) and
This is a horrifying story of racial violence and xenophobia with countless shots of violation , burning crosses and frequent bad taste. Unfortunately, this is another example of a serious movie about xenophobia and racism in which white roles predominate and African-American characters provide background. Terence Young treads a brutal, gory path in this low-powered look at warped , evil white inhabitants of an American town , and the comparatively clean role played by Richard Burton. Big-name cast is wasted as Cameron Mitchell,Linda Evans, Luciana Paluzzi, David Huddleston as the Mayor, they only partially shine. Rumors circulated about Lee Marvin and Richard Burton , both of whom utterly drunk during the shooting. Even the all star cast can't save this movie because is a nightime Soaper and an exploitation story. Lousy cinematography by Lloyd Ahern and Aldo Tonti, as is necessary an urgent remastering. Furthermore notorious conflicts among producers, director, screenwriters (Sam Fuller, Millard Kauffman) and actors made a real flop. Mid-budget production, and the producers would like to thank the citizens of Oroville for their enthusiastic help and cooperation in the making of the film. The picture belongs a period in which made stories is similar style concerning on racial problems , such as ¨Hurry Sundown¨(1967, by Otto Preminger with Michael Caine, John Philip Law, Jane Fonda), ¨The liberation of L.B. Jones¨(70, by William Wyler with Lee J Cobb, Roscoe Lee Browne and again Lola Falana), ¨Tick, Tick¨ (70 by Ralph Nelson with George Kennedy, Jim Brown), and the Oscarized ¨In the heat of the night¨(by Norman Jewison with Sidney Poitier). And in the 8os stands out ¨Missisipi Burning¨ (by Alan Parker with Willem Defoe and Gene Hackman). Rating : 4,5, below average.
There is a lot of opinion out there that The Klansman belongs on the
list of fifty worst films of all time. It's pretty bad, but I've seen
Putting it in its proper context, The Klansman is set in the years right after the Voting Rights Act has been in force for a while. It's not lost on any of the people of this unnamed Alabama county that there is a black majority out there who if they start voting now, a lot of the power structure will be radically changed. It's the underpinning of the reason the Ku Klux Klan exists. That David Huddleston is also mayor of the town and Grand Exalted Cyclops of the local KKK chapter is a very typical Alabama story for generations.
Lee Marvin is the local sheriff and as he conceives his duty it's also to protect the good name of the town and keep the peace. Bringing criminals to justice is second place in his thinking as you'll see by his actions. Richard Burton is a local landowner whose family has long been opposed to the ways of the area, his great grandfather in fact was a judge who was hung for opposing secession before the Civil War. He has a bunch of elderly blacks he keeps on as rent free tenants which has a certain element of the town worked up.
Anyway both their efforts come to naught as there is one bloody showdown in the end.
The Klansman falls back on a lot of stereotypes, racial and otherwise, in the film. It also has a very muddled message in the end, you'll wind up scratching your head as to what all of it really means.
It also in my knowledge has the only rape scene in the history of film that you might wind up laughing at. Cameron Mitchell is Marvin's deputy and a loyal Klansman. At one point under cover of his badge he arrests Lola Falana and takes her to a warehouse where he rapes her with the rest of the white sheet boys standing around gawking. It's staged so stupidly you might actually wind up laughing. That and the fact that who could take Mitchell's character so seriously with a name like Butt Cutt Bates.
Life did imitate art however. O.J. Simpson is in this and he's a black avenger after Klansmen capture and kill a friend of his. He goes around executing the hooded swine. But we well know what happened with O.J. in real life.
Samuel Fuller pulled out of directing after changes in his script were made and Lee Marvin wanted to pull out, but couldn't because he'd signed a contract. Richard Burton was doing just about anything at this point, he just sort of saunters through the film with a very cheesy southern accent.
Pass this one by folks, pass it by.
What was director Young (Dr. No) thinking of taking on this project?!
This is every bit as bad as I've heard. To begin with, there's the
script, certainly among the worst ever written. Then there's the
acting, very stereotypical of its day, except with the stars, Marvin
and Burton, who clearly have no idea what they are doing here and don't
really care. Then there's the anachronisms - the script belongs to the
'60s, it's 5 years out of date. Then of course the morality - while the
Klan is rightly to be condemned, can a black murderer be justified? Can
he just be asked to leave the county as the sheriff does here?
Ridiculous. And then there's the "action" climax - confusing and
Was Young high when he did this? I can't think of any other excuse.
Bad when not just awful.
I must confess a certain amount of guilt in enjoying this movie. It bumbles
along at a shockingly easy-to-watch pace and stops well short of making any
intelligent moral statement condeming racial prejudice (the dilema inherent
in the Sheriff character was an exception). Normally the type to turn this
kind of film off I found the way in which it used such serious themes as an
excuse to unashamedly descend into an action thriller worryingly
entertaining. At times you kind of got the feeling the screenplay writers
had scripted a plot and strenuously tried to fit serious racial points
around them. At times the violence became good guy/bad guy driven just like
Dr. No, also directed by Young.
Perhaps this is the genius of the movie - making a profound statement as to the way cinema tends to illicit an emotive response from the viewing public by making entertainment out of serious issues. Somehow I think not.
Mr. Mike's Couch Time Movie Review: I just watched a budget DVD version
of this picture. All the curse words but not the "N" words were all
edited out. This is easily the worst piece of film that Lee Marvin has
ever been associated with. In fact, it's the worst piece of film HOKE
HOWELL has ever been associated with! At least Howell can tell his
grand-kids that Linda Evans played his wife in a movie....(Hello, get
me casting....) The entire plot of the film is edited out of this
version. Did they make a TV cut to capitalize on the mini-series Roots?
Maybe that explains this. I can't believe that an airline movie print
exists either of this monstrosity.
Lots of familiar faces for stereotyped celluloid of the Old South: Cameron Mitchell, David Huddleston (if you guessed the corrupt Mayor give yourself 5 points!), Howell. But some of the oddest casting ever: Richard Burton co-stars with Marvin, as a left-leaning liberal, peace-loving friend to all races (at least all the women of all the races.) Early on, he's in the sack with Luciana, the local policewoman. There's an implied relationship (this is 1974) with Lola Falana. And after (unbelievably) trying to persuade a hippie clergyman to seduce the recently raped Linda Evans (?), Burton has to dirty his hands with this one too. I mention Falana. She's very good in this movie. As is (drumroll) OJ Simpson, Simpson plays (in this version) just a guy whose fed up with the Klan. Maybe in the complete version, it's Simpson who turns out to be the undercover FBI agent, since Marvin, the Sheriff, repeatedly catches Simpson only to let him go. Who knows? Who cares. The soundtrack is not to be missed either (insert sarcasm here) Memorable scenes: the Klan funeral interrupted by sniper fire, a high-speed herse chase, and 2 car explosions. Then there's the comedic (?) fight scene between Mitchell and Richard Burton and Richard Burton's stand-in.
I just love bad film making. And this didn't disappoint. The Klansman gets 3 potatoes one for Richard Burton's stand-in, one for Richard Burton's on-again, off-again southern (?) accent, one for Richard Burton's on-again, off-again limp
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Infamous film starring Richard Burton and Lee Marvin about the rape of a white woman in small southern town. Its decided that the person responsible is a black man played by OJ Simpson. They go after him with an unbridled zeal while Richard Burton (with a bum leg that comes and goes depending upon the shot) and Lee Marvin try to keep the peace. This film came to my attention in one of the Medved's worst film anthologies. I don't know if I would consider it a worst film of all time, however I will say that its one of the most wrong headed. Its the sort of message movie that Hollywood did in the 1960's and which deteriorated quickly into movie of the week on TV. This is a movie of the week with an "A" movie cast. I think this might have worked but the cast doesn't work on any level. Its often as simply as the wrong casting of Welshman Richard Burton as a Southerner. At other times its incredibly silly as it tries to sell us on the evils of racism with David Huddleston as the Mayor of the town and lead Klansman a role that he played for laughs as Olson Johnson in Blazing Saddles the same year (and elsewhere any other times). I admire the film trying to take on an evil straight on but its just all wrong. Its a turkey, yes but not one of the worst films of all time.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It's odd to think that Burton was still in his 40s when he made this
movie; a piece of sleazy 'social awareness', arguably in the vein of
the Eurothrillers, THE KLANSMAN boasts a cast numbering Burton, Marvin,
Mitchell, Lola Falana, Luciana Paluzzi, Mrs. Evans
. And Young at the
--after a few movies with Bronson
So call it _blaxploitation if you wish --it's nonetheless _blaxploitation directed by Young (the 'James Bond' director) and performed by Burton and Luciana Paluzzi among others .
Luciana Paluzzi was a Bond actress (playing Fiona Volpe); she was also one of the Femmine _insaziabili .
Despite the obvious political incorrectness, the movie bombs in many other ways. Parts of the script appear to have been written at various times, with absolutely no sense of scenes relating to each other. While Lee Marvin has played the gruff sheriff role enough times to walk through his lines, Richard Burton stumbles and bumbles between Southern and British accents throughout. O.J. Simpson hides in trees and snipes at anything in a white robe and hood. Linda Evans, Lola Falana, and Cameron Mitchell, round out the embarrassed looking cast. What you are left with are racial stereotypes on parade, in a truly forgettable film. - MERK
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