Cast & Crew
Joe Grant, a light-skinned Negro whose grandmother was white, moves from Memphis to a small southern town after his brother is lynched for proposing to marry an upper-class white girl. Joe passes for white and finds employment at a bookstore whose proprietor is involved with a teenage gang of motorcyclists in a blackmail photograph racket. Joe deliberately attracts the attention of many of the town's class-conscious young women, including Lizabeth Shannon, the daughter of the town's wealthiest man, and her wayward sister Sylvia. Lizabeth's fiancé, Stan Walker, returns to town and loses no time in investigating Joe's background. Joe's refusal to aid in the blackmail racket precipitates a dispute with the gang. Afterwards, he attends a party celebrating Lizabeth's engagement and seduces Sylvia. He plans to kill Lizabeth to avenge his brother's death, but because of his growing love for her, he is unable to commit the murder. Later, Lizabeth learns that Joe is a Negro, and she decides to sacrifice everything. She finds him wounded after having been beaten by the gang, and the two run off together. Stan organizes a manhunt, fabricating the story that Joe has abducted Lizabeth in order to rape her. During the pursuit, Stan is killed, and the police gun down Joe and Lizabeth as they attempt to cross the Mason-Dixon Line. [Sources vary in the details of the plot. Some sources omit mention of the motorcycle gang. In the original French version, Joe flees to Trenton after his brother's lynching and is killed with Lizabeth while trying to cross the Canadian border. Stan heads the teenage gangster group.]
Radley H. Metzger
Opened in Paris in June 1959 as J'iral cracher sur vos tombes; running time: 107 min.