Based on a novel by Robert Penn Warren, this Southern potboiler stars Yvonne DeCarlo as Amantha Starr, the daughter of a wealthy Louisiana plantation owner. When her father unexpectedly dies, Amantha discovers that her father was deep in debt and the family is penniless, and she is forced to drop out of the exclusive girls' school she was attending. What's more, it is discovered that Amantha has a small amount of African-American blood, and under the laws she is to be sold into slavery in New Orleans. Amantha is purchased by Hamish Bond (Clark Gable), a dashing, wealthy, but mysterious landowner. While Amantha is at first terrified by her new situation, in time she grows fond of Hamish and becomes romantically involved with him. However, the outbreak of the Civil War leads to Union forces taking New Orleans; RauRu (Sidney Poitier), Hamish's trusted overseer, joins the Northern forces as the Rebels go down in defeat. RauRu hates Amantha for literally sleeping with the enemy, and Hamish for the corrupt system he represents, but his last remaining threads of loyalty prevent him from taking them prisoner. With his crops destroyed, Hamish must rebuild his empire from the ground up, and, as he joins forces with his former associate Capt. Canavan (Torin Thatcher), he must reveal a shameful secret to Amantha: he once earned his living as a slave trader.