A Deep South racist gets even with his foe by murdering his young sister, believing that in his small town a white man will never be convicted for killing a negro
It's 1949 and in a small town in the American Deep South , Paris Trout (Hopper) is running a general goods store and a suspect - is there any other kind - second hand car business. When a young black man Henry Ray Sayers, refuses to keep up the payments on one of Paris's less than reliable motors, Trout does what any self-respecting, racist psychotic would do. He kills Henry's ten year old sister, believing in his arrogance that, in his town at least, a white man will never be convicted of murdering a negro.
Trout's wife Hanna (Hershey) is horrified by the shooting and confronts him about it. Paris reacts by humiliating and sexually abusing her. Finally convinced (cries of "what took you so long") that her spouse is completely insane, Hanna leaves the family home and takes refuge in a local hotel. At which point the latent passion that has been smouldering between her and her husband's defence lawyer Harry Seagraves (Harris) bursts into flames.
Meanwhile Trout has been convicted of manslaughter. But, by the simple expedient of bribing the judge, he avoids jail and burning with paranoid resentment returns to take his revenge on his estranged wife and ex-lawyer.
Despite its lazy pace and the kind of plot that raises almost as many questions - for example, why does Hanna bother to stay in town when she has plenty of better reasons to leave? - as it answers, Paris Trout has enough going for it: romance, moral dilemmas, courtroom drama and a sympathetic central performance from Hershey, to keep one interested, if not completely enthralled.
Has enough going for it to keep you interested, if not completely enthralled.