Lee Remick and folk singer Odetta are outstanding in this remake of 1933’s “The Story Of Temple Drake.” It’s based on the William Faulkner novel. If you’re looking for a good drama put this on the must see list. It takes place in the 1920’s down South.
Nancy Mannigoe (Odetta) is convicted of killing the baby of Temple Stevens (Lee Remick). She doesn’t defend herself and Temple remains silent. Nancy’s lawyer (Harry Townes) tells Temple she has to tell the whole truth to her father the governor when she asks him to pardon Nancy who is due to hang the next day.
Temple is in college and goes to a dance with Gowan Stevens (Bradford Dillman). He’s drunk and Temple calls a halt to his advances. He gets behind the wheel of her car and says he’s taking over. He wants to go into the back woods for more booze. He’s speeding on an unlit back road and hits a tree that’s across the road. Waiting there is Dog Boy (Strother Martin). Gowan wants the booze and Dog Boy leads them to a shack. Inside is a gang of bootleggers led by Candy (Yves Montand). Also there is Nancy. Candy is the candy man who supplies her heroin.
Gowan can’t handle the booze and passes out. The gang is ready to take a truck loaded with illegal hooch into town. Temple is given an attic room to spend the night. Nancy comes up and warns her that she won’t be alone long. One of the gang shows up but is chased out when it’s time for the truck to leave. Dog Boy takes her to a barn where he says Candy won’t find her. Of course he does and he rapes her. Gowan is taken onto the truck and dumped off outside of town.
Candy stashes Temple at Miss Reba’s (Reta Shaw) bordello. Temple instantly takes to the atmosphere and falls for Candy. He doesn’t know her name and calls her Pepper. He’s getting disgusted that she can’t lay off the booze. One night he decides to take her car on a run with Dog Boy. The Feds are onto him and chase after him and pumping bullets into the car. It crashes and burns. Temple is traced to Miss Reba’s thanks to the car. She returns to her old life. Gowan says the whole thing was his fault and he doesn’t want to hear any details. He marries her.
Five years go by. They have two kids. Since she’s in society Temple does some charity work. She visits a hospital for addicts and finds Nancy. She hires her as a servant to look after the house along with her young son and infant. Just by having her around Temple is reminded of the old days and it relieves her boredom. Then things start to go wrong. The movie follows the next year.
This is an excellent movie that is well worth seeking out.