Abridged version of an excellent TV drama series
By a customer
, 16 Jun 2010
THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS
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I first saw this production as a two part TV movie on BBC television back in the early 1990's and the running time was just under three hours. I understand that in The USA it had originally been screened as a four part mini-series. Unfortunately, this DVD release has had nearly one hour of footage cut from it. The full TV version would have obviously been far more preferable.
The drama apparently adheres pretty closely to the known facts of this true story and the 1920's period ambience is very effectively recreated. The performances from all of the cast members (particularly John Heard, Mel Harris and David Morse) are of a high order.
I also enjoyed Dakin Matthews in the role of Hiram Evans, the 'Imperial Wizard' (Boss) of the KKK and George Dzunda as Boyd Gurley, the campaigning, anti-KKK editor of the Indianapolis Times newspaper.
There are some horrific scenes depicting violence meted out by Klansmen to a black farmer who has had the temerity to register himself as a voter (deleted from this abridged version) and the forcible drugging, abduction at gunpoint and brutal rape of the young school teacher Madge Oberholtzer (Mel Harris) by David Stephenson. Some footage has been cut from these scenes as well.
The climax of the story is the (1925) Indiana trial (convincingly reconstructed here) of Stephenson for the murder of Madge (she had in fact despairingly taken a fatal dose of mercuric chloride in a vain attempt to obtain medical assistance and release from her prolonged captivity) and the depiction of the valiant (and successful) case mounted by the young and inexperienced assistant state prosecutor Clem Henry (David Morse), who is (initially) unequally matched against a veteran defence attorney, played here by Lloyd Bridges.
The social, political, religious and racial attitudes of the period are all realistically portrayed together with moving depictions of the effects that the tragic death of this beautiful, vital and intelligent young woman had on her family and friends.
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