Cast & Crew
In early nineteenth-century Louisiana, a band of raiders led by Hugo Marat attack black workers on the plantation of Jules Tulane and kill one of the overseers. The raiders also steal Tulane's large harvest of cut sugarcane to sell on the black market. This group, along with other raiders and pirates, threaten to destroy the river empire of plantations that the Creole aristocracy has developed since early settlement. Lili Scarlet, who with her father and Hugo runs a gambling boat, admonishes Hugo for the killing, but not the theft. Lili's hatred of the Tulanes began when the aristocracy prevented her father Jacques, a "delta man" and former Lafitte pirate, from purchasing the estate of René LaFarge, a friend of Tulane's son André. After being alerted by a wounded worker, André catches Lili and threatens her with ten years in prison unless she shows him the secret location of the raiders' hideout in Bastille Bayou. Lili pretends to agree but manages to trick André and escape. Soon after, Jules is ordered to appear in court for non-payment of a $30,000 note issued by refinery owner Georges Gabriel. The Tulane sugarcane had been promised as security for payment of the note, and now Jules, who suffers from malaria, is threatened with five years in prison. When André protests that his father would die in prison, Lili, who has purchased the note from Gabriel, offers to cancel the debt if André enters into bonded servitude to her for three years. He agrees, despite his father's objection. When André challenges Hugo to a duel following some insulting remarks, Hugo, who is an expert swordsman, agrees to fight with rapiers at daybreak. Lili pleads with André's parents to stop him, but Jules and his wife Celeste inform Lili that family honor is more precious to the Tulanes than life. The next morning, Lili insists on being the referee and stops the duel when first blood is drawn. She commands André never to challenge anyone to a duel again, and André is impressed with her spirit. On the gambling boat that night, Gabriel offers to help the Tulanes, and André, suspecting that he is in cahoots with the raiders, gives him false information about LaFarge's sugarcane. The next night, Lili succeeds in enticing André, but a brawl downstairs in the gambling area interrupts their embrace. Lili, Jacques and André are then arrested and taken to the parish prison. Lili is angry with Hugo, who was responsible for the fight, but Jacques reminds her that they cannot buy him out, as the banks, owned by the Creole aristocracy, would never loan them money. André, however, tries to convince Lili that Hugo and his raiders are intent on ruining her family as well as the planters. He then proposes marriage, saying that she is the loveliest and most courageous woman he has met, and they kiss. The next day, Hugo bails out Lili and Jacques, and she says she will get money within an hour to release André. Sometime later, Gabriel bails out André, and states that he saw the Scarlets riding south to the river. Acting on Hugo's orders, Gabriel sets up André to be murdered, but André eludes Hugo's thugs, and Hugo then shoots Gabriel in the back. André's plan to trap the raiders backfires, and, believing that Lili has deceived him, he returns to the gambling boat. After knocking out a guard, however, André finds that Lili and her father are Hugo's prisoners, and that the bags of LaFarge's sugarcane are on the boat, which is to leave for Bastille Bayou. When Hugo finds André, Lili, to stall for time, taunts Hugo, saying he is afraid to fight a duel with André. Hugo takes up the challenge, slaps André's face, and André chooses machetes for their duel at daybreak at Bastille Bayou. Afraid that even if André wins the duel the raiders will kill him, Lili escapes and swims to shore, then goes to the Tulane plantation, where she gives Jules his note back and convinces him and LaFarge to round up the planters. Celeste now says it is high time for the aristocracy to realize that "it does not matter where you comes from, but what you are" and says she hopes André has the good fortune to bring her into the family. Lili leads the planters on the ride to Bastille Bayou. The duel is interrupted by the riders, who capture the raiders, and André chases Hugo to the boat, where their fight ends in the gambling hall as André kills Hugo. Later, Lili tells André that he has a "delta woman," and he threatens to send her to parish prison unless she enters into "bonded servitude" to him for the rest of her life. He then kisses her and picks her up, telling her that he is taking her home, as her father watches approvingly.
Jean Del Val
Vince M. Townsend Jr.
Gerald Drayson Adams
The working title of this film was Lili Scarlet. According to information in the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, some scenes were shot on location at Algiers, LA.