Paul Newman plays Ben Quick, the mysterious drifter who stirs up a town and its women when he hitches up in Frenchman’s Bend, Mississippi, where life is dominated by elderly patriarch Will Varner (Orson Welles). Will’s daughter Clara (Joanne Woodward) and son Jody (Anthony Franciosa) are a disappointment to him. While Jody spends his time fooling around with his alluring wife, Eula (Lee Remick), the strong-willed Clara is courted by Alan Stewart (Richard Anderson), a milquetoast mama’s boy. Will himself is resisting being pressured into marriage by his long-term mistress Minnie (Angela Lansbury), but he sees in Ben the passion and drive that Jody lacks. He invites Ben to live with the family, and Ben launches a relentless campaign to break Clara’s will and win her heart. This proves the final straw for Jody, who is driven to desperate measures to prove his manhood – a situation that sparks both deadly danger and shocking revelations over the course of one long, hot summer.
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