A white woman (Linda Evans) is raped by an unidentified black man in Alabama. The chief suspect is quickly picked up by the sheriff (excellently portrayed by Lee Marvin), knowing that the Ku Klux Klan have formed a lynch mob and are out looking for the offender.
The Klansmen come across two innocent black men and manage to capture one, brutally torturing him before killing him. The other man (OJ Simpson) watches with anguish while hiding, and the film goes on to show how he avenges his friend’s death by picking off the Klansmen one by one.
Richard Burton plays Breck Stancill, a Southern aristocrat who protects the blacks and takes the rape victim into his own home after the so-called Christians wickedly rebuke her for her misfortune.
Cameron Mitchell – the likeable Uncle Buck in TV’s The High Chaparral – gives a brilliant performance as the cruel and hypocritical deputy sheriff who leads the local Klansmen.
The director, Terence Young, had previously directed Dr No and From Russia With Love. Despite the modern setting of The Klansman, Young displayed obvious regard for the Western film in many scenes, especially during the shattering shootout, which makes the OK Corral showdown look like a Sunday School outing.
The film was shot in the rural town of Oroville, California. The locals were initially thrilled to host a big movie production, but their attitude changed when they saw the finished product. Richard Burton was drinking two to three bottles of vodka a day while making the film.
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