D.C. 'Steve' Stephenson is visiting Indiana and mounting a campaign to increase the membership of the Ku Klux Klan. There he meets schoolteacher Madge Oberholtzer and tries to seduce her but having no luck he abducts her rapes and tortures her and eventually kills her. The trial that follows marks the end of the Klan's popularity as Stephenson implicates them in the murder. Based on a true story.
I've given this DVD 5 stars but that's for the film in its original form. Based on a true story it is a fine testament to the acting of the late John Heard, as well as other big names such as Mel Harris, David Morse and Lloyd Bridges. The problem is that it was originally broadcast as a mini series totalling over 3 hours, here having been drastically cut for DVD to around 2 hours. The uncut version was released but the reviewer has only ever seen it on VHS. many important scenes have been omitted in the version reviewed here and the whole thing just feels too 'speeded up' to a conclusion. An example of one very powerful scene omitted is; Having spent the whole night time journey in a sleeper car viciously assaulting and raping Madge Oberholtzer leaving her close to death, Stephenson notes the shocked look on the face of the black sleeper car attendant who enters the cabin in the morning and surveys the bloody scene. As they leave, Stephenson leaves a dollar to compensate for the extra 'cleaning up' required. (that scene is included.) Omitted is the scene much later in the courthouse, Stephenson is on trial for murder as Madge has since died and the sleeper car attendant is a prosecution witness. The trial is not going well for Stephenson and as the attendant steps down from the witness box he walks purposely over to where Stephenson is sitting, produces the dollar and throws it down on the table in front of him. Stephenson at first cockily spins it but then angrily knocks it away. Try and find the full version!
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