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Racial intolerance grows as thick as Spanish moss on a Louisiana bayou tree in this tale adapted from Ernest J. Gaines's novel. After a tenant farmer is killed, black sharecropper Mathu (Louis Gossett Jr.) is accused of his death. Sympathetic plantation owner Candy (Holly Hunter) tries to protect Mathu from a lynch mob, and when the sheriff (Richard Widmark) arrives, Mathu's elderly associates confess to the killing to save their good friend.