Director: D.W. Griffith
Stars: Lillian Gish, Mae Marsh, Henry B. Walthall, Miriam Cooper
The only way that D.W. Griffith’s infamous silent film The Birth of a Nation could’ve been more racist is if they would’ve gone with the flick’s original title: The Clansman. As it stands, though, Griffith’s disturbing “drama” is truly a product of its time of racial injustice, right down to the use of white actors donning black-face makeup while portraying black characters as buffoons whose only goals in life are to try and sleep with white ladies and evade the ever-persistent Ku Klux Klan.
Not unsettling enough for you? Dwell on this fun little factoid: The Birth of a Nation was once used as a recruitment tool by the KKK. Nothing riles melanin-challenged bigots up like scenes in which black men miraculously enter political offices and pass laws that allow mixed-race marriages and require Caucasians to always salute their black superiors in public. One racial extremist’s horror movie is another level-headed and tolerant person’s selection for cinema’s most racist of all time. Different strokes for different folks, indeed.