In 1920s rural Mississippi, Nancy Mannigoe (Odetta), an African-American servant, is placed on death row for the murder of Temple Drake's (Lee Remick) infant child. Temple, the daughter of the governor, pleads with her father to exonerate Nancy of the charges, explaining that Nancy acted in haste to prevent her from resuming her affair with a roguish Cajun called Candy Man (Yves Montand). Details of Temple's sordid past are uncovered as she begs mercy for her faithful servant.
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