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When electrical engineer David Martin and his ambitious wife Jean move into the Sunrise Hills suburban housing development, their neighbors, Herman and Betty Kreitzer, invite them to a barbeque. Also invited are Jerry Flagg, a shiftless, used car salesman who cloaks his disappointment with life in an alcoholic haze, Jerry's long-suffering wife Isabelle, Troy Boone, a crude, uneducated auto mechanic who glories in his past as a war hero, and Troy's sultry wife Leola. At the party, David comments that he feels fortunate to be able to buy a house, to which Jerry cynically replies that they are all at least twenty-five years in debt. When the drunken, lecherous Jerry asks Jean to dance and then clings to her suggestively, Isabelle runs home in tears. Later, at home, Jean prods David to leave engineering, a job he loves, for a higher paying position in sales. The next morning, Leola, restless, reproaches Troy for forcing her to give away the child she bore before they were married. When Leola pleads with Troy to have another baby, Troy, who has applied for the job of police chief, insists on waiting until he is hired. After Troy leaves for work, Leola sobs in silent desperation. Meanwhile, at the Markham used car lot, Jerry, bent on earning enough money to buy his son a new bike, pressures the Burnetts, a naïve, unsuspecting couple, into spending their last dollar on a used car. With the anticipated commission from the sale, Jerry insists on throwing a lavish party for the neighbors. Meanwhile, Herman, the manager of an appliance store, is asked by his Japanese employee Iko to help persuade the subdivision's developers to allow his family to move into the community. When Betty expresses reluctance to become involved in a racial controversy, Herman angrily criticizes her for claiming devotion to religious tenets while refusing to help fight racial intolerance. At the party that night, Jerry is boasting that easy credit and no money down is the secret to prosperity when Markham, his boss, appears at the door, furious that Jerry financed the Burnetts' loan through a usurious finance company. When Markham demands that Jerry immediately return the Burnetts' money, Jerry speeds away, drunk. As Isabelle and Herman drive off in search of Jerry, Troy invites Jean to his garage to view his war trophies and there confides that his war memories are the only thing keeping him alive. Leola, meanwhile, gets drunk and begins to babble about the baby Troy made her give away. After Troy hauls the squalling Leola home, Jerry returns and begins to jabber about his get-rich schemes, causing Isabelle to scream in frustration. The next day, Herman, the head of the City Council, tells Troy that he has been disqualified from the chief's job because of his lack of education. Troy, who had hoped to regain his former glory through the police chief's uniform, explodes and goes home, drunk and seething with resentment. After he accuses Leola of trying to pass off someone else's baby as his and then kicks in the television set, Leola flees and Troy goes to bed, bottle in hand. Some time later that night, Troy, intoxicated, menacingly lumbers into Jean's kitchen. David is away on a business trip, and Jean, helpless and alone, tries to fend off Troy's advances to no avail. After Troy rapes her, she runs in hysterics next door to Betty and Herman's house. When David returns home the next morning, Jean tells David that Troy raped her. Furious, David hurries next door to confront him, but Troy claims that Jean wanted to have sex with him. As Leola watches, the two men fight and Troy slugs David to the floor. David then returns home to reassure Jean that he still loves her. Denouncing Troy, Leola declares that she is leaving him, and when he tries to stop her, she pushes him away, causing him to fall underneath their car, which is supported only by a jack. When the car crashes down on Troy, David, hearing the commotion, rushes into the garage and raises the car with the jack, freeing Troy, who then dies in Leola's arms. The following Sunday, all the neighbors, including Iko, attend church while Leola climbs into a cab and drives out of town, passing a sign that reads "Happy Acres, the happy end to your house hunting."