Fifth Horseman (1924)

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Despite the nationwide controversy that had greeted D. W. Griffith's portrayal of the Ku Klux Klan in The Birth of a Nation back in 1915, the insidious brotherhood was once again trotted out and glorified in this low-budget melodrama produced, written and directed by one E. M. McMahon. Cornelius Keefe stars as John Franklin, a social worker coming to the aid of Tom Mather (Charles Brook), a wayward youth innocently involved with a gang of dangerous bootlegging radicals. John introduces Tom to kindhearted Colonel Woodson (Leslie Stowe), a veteran of the War Between the States and a high-ranking member of the Klan, who not only shows the young man a love of God but also cures his little daughter (Alice May) of a debilitating and seemingly incurable disease. Una Merkel, later to play Ann Rutledge in D. W. Griffith's Abraham Lincoln (1930), made her screen acting debut in this distasteful film as Cornelius Keefe's pert girlfriend.