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The Klansman (1974)

A local Sheriff tries to keep the peace as racial strife hits his small Alabama town as tensions boil over when a black man is accused of raping a white woman.

Director:

Terence Young

Writers:

William Bradford Huie (novel), Millard Kaufman (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Lee Marvin ... Sheriff Track Bascomb
Richard Burton ... Breck Stancill
Cameron Mitchell ... Butt Cutt Cates
O.J. Simpson ... Garth
Lola Falana ... Loretta Sykes
David Huddleston ... Mayor Hardy Riddle
Luciana Paluzzi ... Trixie
Linda Evans ... Nancy Poteet
Ed Call Ed Call ... Shaneyfelt
John Alderson John Alderson ... Vernon Hodo
John Pearce John Pearce ... Taggart
David Ladd ... Flagg
Vic Perrin Vic Perrin ... Hector
Spence Wil-Dee Spence Wil-Dee ... Willy Washington
Wendell Wellman ... Alan Bascomb
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Storyline

A small southern town has just been rocked by a tragedy: a young woman has been violently raped. The white town fathers immediately declare that the attacker had to be black, and place the blame on Garth, a young black man. Assuming that the men in white sheets aren't intent on holding a fair and impartial trial, Garth takes to the woods as the Klansmen lynching party hunts him down. Written by Jean-Marc Rocher <rocher@fiberbit.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Welcome to scenic Atoka County. Pop 10,000. Cross burnings. Rape. Murder. Arson. Its a great place to live...... if THEY let you.

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

25 October 1974 (West Germany) See more »

Also Known As:

The Klansman See more »

Filming Locations:

Oroville, California, USA

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Box Office

Budget:

$5,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Atlanta Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (cut)

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

A chain smoker, Richard Burton was diagnosed with influenza and tracheobronchitis during filming. See more »

Goofs

As Cutt gets up after Breck swings him over a pile of suitcases during the fight, a mattress can be seen behind these suitcases, obviously put there for Cutt to land on. See more »

Quotes

Loretta Sykes: Hey, what are you trying to do?
Garth: Kick some asses, baby.
Loretta Sykes: What's the point of busting up a peaceful meeting?
Garth: What good's a peaceful meeting? It's for them bourgeois negros. When you gonna learn anyway that all that marching gonna get you is what you got. Screwed.
Loretta Sykes: And don't you know you gotta keep violence out of the movement?
Garth: You know, if I was a honky I'd want niggers to all be just like you. Do nothings. Always marching them dumb-ass marches and mouthing them dumb-ass slogans.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The original UK cinema version was cut by the BBFC to edit the rape and castration scenes. All 15-rated UK DVD releases feature the heavily edited US TV version which completely removes these sequences as well as extensively cutting bad language and most of the violence. See more »

Connections

Featured in A Century of Black Cinema (2003) See more »

Soundtracks

Marching to Victory
(uncredited)
Sung at the protest in town
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Incredibly brave or incredibly reckless?
5 January 2003 | by barnabyrudgeSee all my reviews

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.


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