Based on Lillian Hellman's play, a southern war profiteer tries to use his money to control his family, but his oldest son finds out his secret.
In 1880 Col. Isham (Fritz Lieber) tells Oscar Hubbard (Dan Duryea) to leave the Confederate Day celebration. Ben Hubbard (Edmond O'Brien) comes back from Mobile, but in his store his father Marcus Hubbard (Fredric March) won't loan him money. Regina Hubbard (Ann Blyth) meets John Bagtry (John Dall) in the forest, and they kiss. Lavinia Hubbard (Florence Eldridge) won't eat salt on her birthday. Regina bought dresses, and Ben wants her to marry wealthy Horace. Oscar asks Marcus for $5 and gets it. During the war Marcus made money selling salt. Lavinia wants money for a hospital.
Regina reads to Marcus and says she could go to Chicago. In a saloon Oscar kisses Laurette (Dona Drake) and asks her to be his wife. The KKK attacks Sam Taylor, and Oscar is seen. Marcus tells Lavinia that she is going to Chicago with Regina. Col. Isham tells Marcus what Oscar did, and Marcus has Ben give Col. Isham $500. Marcus pays Ben $20 a week, and he tells Oscar that he is lowering his pay from $16 to $11 to pay his debt. Birdie Bagtry (Betsy Blair) asks Ben for a loan of $5,000, and he asks her for a letter with promises. Ben tells his father that she wants $7,000. Oscar tells his mother Lavinia that he needs money to marry.
Marcus lets Oscar invite Laurette, who dances can-can. Regina and John see Oscar and Laurette kissing. John tells Regina that he does not want to marry her; he is going to Brazil because Birdie is getting money. Marcus says he wants to go to Europe. Regina tells Marcus that Ben is profiting on the loan. Marcus tells Laurette that she can have Oscar, and Laurette calls Marcus a crook who exploited people during the war. Marcus tells Birdie that he won't make the loan even though she says they are starving. Marcus says he will loan Oscar $1,000 to get married. Ben tells Marcus that Regina may marry John in Chicago. Marcus slaps Ben and tells him to leave. Marcus says that John believes only in war. Lavinia does not want to go to a doctor in Chicago, but she will if Marcus lets Ben stay. Marcus calls her crazy. Lavinia says she will go with Ben. She is afraid of Marcus and Ben. Lavinia tells Ben that she saw Union soldiers massacre people. Ben says that Marcus may be lynched, and Marcus tries to choke him. Ben demands that Marcus turn over all his assets to him. Ben gets cash and tells Jake to take it to Birdie.
Oscar can't find the $1,000 and calls Marcus. Ben eats in his father's place and tells him to write papers. Ben tells Regina that she is not going to Chicago because Marcus is giving his money to him. Lavinia is glad that Ben is staying. Disappointed Oscar says that Laurette left for New Orleans with John. Hopeful Marcus tells Regina that he can start over. Ben sends Oscar to Horace with $2,000. Lavinia asks Ben for money for the hospital, but he says not now. Ben says that he will make big money, but Lavinia says he is lonely.
This drama portrays the Hubbard family of The Little
Foxes during an earlier era as they squabble for the ill-gotten
money made during the war that turned the town against them.