Story of a troubled man who accidentally kills someone who has been dogging him ever since they were kids because his father was hung for murder. Dane Clark does a good job as Danny Hawkins who is a decent person trying to deal with his demons. It takes place in the swampland of Virginia. Ethel Barrymore appears as Danny’s grandmother.
Danny Hawkins’ (Dane Clark) father is hung and the other kids won’t stop harassing him, especially Jerry Sykes the banker’s son.
Now they’re adults. Outside a dance Jerry (Lloyd Bridges) is warning Danny to stay away from Gilly Johnson (Gail Russell). They start to duke it out and Danny finally knocks Jerry down. Jerry picks up a rock. Danny gets it from him and bashes him over the head killing him. He drags the body into the pond and doesn’t notice that his penknife is hung up on a branch.
Danny goes back to the dance and stops some guys from making fun of deaf mute Billy (Harry Morgan). Inside he dances with Gilly the school teacher who is cautious about everything she does. He just about forces her to take a drive with another couple. The car belongs to the other guy’s father. It’s a bad rainstorm and Danny is speeding despite being asked to slow down. He sees a vision of Jerry coming at him with a rock and crashes. Everyone survives intact.
The next day he confesses to Gilly how he feels about her and she says Jerry asked her to marry him. Danny goes to visit his friend Mose (Rex Ingram), a retired railroad worker who lives by himself in a shack near the pond. Mose takes out a hunting party with his dogs and they tree a raccoon. Danny goes up the tree to shake it down.
The dogs are restless and know something isn’t right. They find Jerry’s body. After that the sheriff, Clem Otis (Allyn Joslyn) asks Danny about his feelings for Gilly. In a store Danny is checking out a penknife just like his and the shop keeper reminds him that he bought one just like year ago.
A bank examiner discovers that Jerry stole two thousand dollars from his father’s bank. He was in debt to local band leader Ken Williams who runs a poker game. Danny goes to get his missing knife from Billy who he spotted whittling with it. He can’t make Billy understands and starts to strangle him. His better judgement kicks in and he stops and returns the knife to Billy.
That night he and Gilly go to the county fair. He’s surprised to see the sheriff there since he thought he was going to arrest Ken for Jerry’s death. Danny and Gilly get on the ferris wheel. He tells her that his mother was ill and the doctor gave her some pills. When she dies after taking them his father pumped three bullets into the doctor and that’s why he was hung.
He looks down and sees the sheriff and his wife get on the ferris wheel. He panics and jumps off. He limps off to Mose’s shack. Mose starts singing an old blues song about a man waiting to be hung. Danny understands that Mose knows he killed Jerry.
The sheriff asks Gilly to bring Danny in otherwise he’ll have to be brought back in handcuffs and that won’t look good to a jury. She finds him in an abandoned mansion behind Mose’s place. That’s where they used to have clandestine meetings when she was being cautious about her reputation.
Outside he hears the sheriff and his men talk a reluctant Mose into using his dogs to find Danny. He takes off to where he knows he’ll find refuge.
The movie lays the sentiment on thicker than maple syrup and a lot of people will find the ending very unsatisfying.
Allyn Joslyn is better known for his light hearted comedic roles but does a nice job here as the sheriff. On TV he starred as Colonel Harvey T.Blackwell on “McKeever And The Colonel” (1962-63).