August 2, 2021

‘The Man of the Klan’, when Lee Marvin and OJ Simpson got shotguns at white supremacists

Those who remember the time of the revival of the cine grindhouse Thanks to the homonymous film by Tarantino and Robert Rodríguez, you will remember the barrage of fake trailers, and real ones that showed possibilities of amazing films that taught everything. nobody dared to imagine on a movie screen. Unbelievable situations, wild scenes, spicy or simply too much aberrant to be true.

Well, if someone had sneaked a trailer for ‘Klan man‘, with its moments of violence, castration or climactic scenes of Marvin shot against hooded in white, they would have thought it was one of those delusions. There are similar cases, very surprising like ‘The Black Klansman‘(1966) but in this case the film was very serious. It was also a more modest gamble than most of the 70’s. But it had an inexplicable combination of great actors like Richard Burton, Lee Marvin and as famous as OJ Simpson.

Sex, free violence and political inaccuracy with “good bottom”

The amazing thing is his gaze on an incendiary matter, the assimilated racism In the small towns of the southern United States, not very happy with the end of segregation laws. What counted is not now implausible. In a small southern town populated by poor blacks and rabid racist whites, the sheriff, Track Bascomb (Marvin), tries to keep the tensions between the two factions in balance with measures such as brokering black rapes and sending the perpetrators home. As if they were kids who are playing to the ball where they should not.

We also have a local landowner, Breck Stancil (Burton), who provokes the ire of the local group of the Ku Klux Klan because it does not allow certain property concessions to its members and because it conceals a woman repudiated by the people for having had relations with a black man. Come on, like I have the plague. We also have OJ Simpson, in black panther mode, acting as a vigilante and taking out clan members alone. The various forces of history converge in a explosive and violent climax.

The Klansman1

Everything is reminiscent of a kind of deranged Western, with an arid tone and full of testosterone. Ran the veteran Terence Young, known above all for his good work in ‘From Russia With Love’ (From Russia With Love, 1963), on a script, no less, by Sam Fuller about a novel by William Bradford Hule, in which the hero was a member of the Klan gradually learning the meaning of tolerance. The studio asked for something softer, and Fuller gave some air, but let enough ambiguity on Marvin’s sheriff to put his hands to his head.

Courageous plea or racismploitation?

So much Burton and Marvin they rolled in a alcoholic state alarming. Soon after, Burton would enter a detox center. Yet his hieratic expressions are better than the work of a Cameron Mitchell playing cartoon villain. None of them have much to do with truism dialogues that you put in their mouths, that they become so surreal that they become fun. Although it is hard to take it as a joke with scenes as unpleasant as the rape of the young black woman who plays Lola Falana.

Daughter of one of Stancil’s employees, the rednecks assume that she has relations with him, so they assault her and try to blame some black man, to later justify their cleaning job. The contrast between the consideration of the racial struggle of the film, basically, an armed solution, and the tremendous naivety of which it flaunts explaining slogans of the real moment of the United States in a almost didactic. As if he didn’t just believe them. No. This is not ‘Loving’ (2016) nor ‘Arde Mississippi’ (Mississippi Burnin, 1988)

And it is that it shows that we are facing a movie from another time when he almost asked for forgiveness for questioning the judgment of an entire people that is outraged when a woman sleeps with a black man. But soon he returns to his speech as best he can, clean shot. The final stretch is quite memorable, bizarre and no grayscale. A hilarious action drama that isn’t supposed to be, an encore anomaly that goes from the gloriously absurd to the reactionary, somehow justified.