film 91 of 103

The White Caps

Film Review by Dean Duncan May 28, 2015

Is this vigilante film any less objectionable than Birth of a Nation, with its Klan elements? You could certainly say that the guy had it coming, and it’s practically a relief that there’s no racial motivation. It’s okay to tar and feather white wife beaters, isn’t it? (And there they are, actually tarring and feathering the guy! It’s really quite stunningly matter-of-fact, presumably accurate, quite unembarrassed.) But due process, not to mention freedom of speech, are important precisely because and when they’re wrong, or we disagree. The problem, as everyone knows—unless they’re of a string-‘em-up persuasion—is that the seemingly justified instance of taking it in your hands will probably be followed by a complete throwing down of the traces. The witch-hunters’ rebuttal—what, have you got something to hide?—comes immediately after. The witches often win in this world, don’t they?

There’s some reasonably effective re-framing happening here. There’s some utterly ineffective blocking, with far too many shots made up of characters coming from the back of the frame and taking forever to get all the way to the front. Those great big masks, by the way, look only uncomfortable, but also pretty silly. There is one really exquisite shot, though, as the daughter helps the battered woman across a beautiful sunlit field. Gravest distress, offset by benevolent creation and the prospect of help ahead.