Good performances by Miriam Hopkins as the wild child granddaughter of a judge and Jack LaRue as a gangster named Trigger highlight this loose adaption of a William Faulkner novel.
Temple Drake (Miriam Hopkins) refuses to marry lawyer Stephen Benbow (William Gargan) because of her wild streak. She doesn’t want to ruin his life. One night at a dance she’s with drunken Toddy Gowan. She wants to get out of there and away from Stephen. She tells Toddy she wants a lot of drinks. They take off and a drunken Toddy eventually crashes the car.
A gangster named Trigger (Jack LaRue) shows up with the slow witted Tommy. They take the two up to a rundown plantation used by bootlegger Leo Goodwin and his gang. The men all lust after Temple. They take Toddy with them as they drive their load of booze to town. Trigger demands Temple stay there. A woman named Ruby takes her to the barn where she says she’ll be safe. Tommy appoints himself her protector and stands guard.
At dawn Trigger goes to the barn. He kills Tommy and rapes Temple. Trigger takes Temple to the city and puts her in a brothel run by Miss Reba. She has a maid named Minnie (Louise Beavers). Along the way Trigger stops at a gas station. Ten gallons…a buck seventy. Coffee is a nickel.
Toddy comes to in a warehouse and leaves town. The newspapers say Temple is visiting relatives in Philadelphia. Because of her reputation the town gossips don’t believe it and come up with rumors of their own.
Leo is arrested for Tommy’s murder and Stephen is appointed to be his lawyer. Leo’s not talking. In his cell he shows Stephen a bullet in the wall. That’s warning enough for him to keep quiet. Ruby isn’t so close mouthed and she tells Stephen about Trigger and he goes to see him.
Stephen is shocked to see Temple in the room with Trigger. He tells Trigger to stand up. Looks like a brawl is on the way. Temple spots Trigger reaching into his pocket for a gun. She tells Stephen she’s there by her own choice. After he leaves Trigger thinks Temple really digs him and tells her some plans. Temple sets him straight and realizes he was played for a sucker.
After a while the movie comes to one of those endings where it just seems to stop. But that doesn’t ruin the whole thing and it shouldn’t keep anyone from checking it out.