This made-for-television production, based on the novel by Pete Dexter, is about an abusive Southern bigot who finds himself charged with the murder of a black girl. The program begins in the spring of 1949 as a rabies epidemic has just broken out in Ether County, Georgia. There, Paris Trout watches as his ailing mother gets a sponge bath in her nursing home. Paris's wife, Hanna, works at her husband's general store. Paris is also a loan shark, as when he usuriously lends money to a black man, Henry Ray Sayers, so that he can buy a car. Meanwhile, Henry's two young siblings, Chester and Rosie, go exploring. They stumble upon a possibly rabid fox, which bites Rosie. She then goes to Paris's store to buy crackers for her mother. There, Paris castigates her before Hanna notices her bitten leg and takes her to a clinic, angering Paris. Shortly thereafter, lawyer Harry Seagraves notices Hannh escorting Rosie down the street.

Once at the doctor's, Rosie is frightened by the needle shown by the imposing Dr. Brewer and declines the medicine. Later, the police escort Rosie home. That night, Rosie's concerned mother, Mary, questions Rosie about the fox. The next day, Henry backs his new car into another man's truck, with the damage exposing that he was fleeced in his purchase. However, Henry learns that the insurance he purchased from Paris will finance repairs. After going to the Trouts' house, Henry is told by Paris that the insurance isn't valid since he hasn't yet paid his bill. Thus, Henry decides to abandon his damaged car and marches away, infuriating Paris. The next day, Paris drives Henry's car back to the Sayers' shack, demanding payment. Henry runs off, after which Paris dons brass knuckles and insists that Chester pay the debt. Paris chases a screaming Rosie into the house, shooting the twelve-year-old before his associate, Buster Devonne, shoots Mary. Paris shoots them both again before leaving, not realizing he still hasn't killed them.

That night, Harry visits the Trout's, where Hanna is shocked to learn of Paris's attempts at murder. Harry then speaks with Paris, who wonders how he can get in trouble for simply trying to collect a debt. The next day, Paris fears that Hanna has poisoned his breakfast and refuses to eat it. Running out, Hanna visits the comatose Rosie in the hospital, who then dies. Paris returns home to speak with Hanna, wondering why she visited Rosie at the clinic. Angered, he attempts to drown her in the bathtub, then abruptly stops. The next day, Paris is told by prosecutor Carl Bonner that he is being charged with Rosie's death, something Paris finds inexplicable. Harry attempts to escort Paris out of Carl's office, but Carl arrests him. Later, Harry visits the Sayers' shack, wanting a look at the murder scene. There, Harry is sickened by the blood which still stains the wall and floor.

The next day, Hanna returns home to find Paris wielding a pistol and ranting about his situation. Paris also demands that his wife get him a drink and clean up his store. Hanna returns with a soda bottle, at which point Paris overpowers her and uses the bottle to rape her. Hanna locks the door to her room, which Paris unsuccessfully tries to break down. Later, Paris arrives home with glass panes, using them to cover his bedroom floor. Too late, Hanna realizes that the panes are to monitor footprints. She tries to scrub her own away before Paris returns that evening. After studying the residue on the panes, he goes to the kitchen and throws the refrigerator's contents on the floor, finally forcing Hanna from her room. He hurls dishes and jars at her, leaving her feet badly cut. Then, Paris drives away, just as Harry arrives. Hanna tells Harry that she must leave Paris.

Months after the murder, the trial finally begins, with Atlanta journalists among those covering it. At the trial, Harry attempts to defend Paris, asking the jury if Paris would truly shoot Mary and Rosie over a meager debt. Afterward, Harry visits Hanna in her new quarters at the local rooming house. There, Harry tells her that her separation from Paris works against his case. Hanna then tells Harry of the "unmentionable" manner in which Paris assaulted her with a bottle. The next day at the trial, Chester takes the stand, answering questions from Carl. On Harry's cross-examination, Chester answers questions about Henry's business dealings with Paris and the "life" it provided them. The next day, Mary speaks about being shot by Paris and Buster, as well as Rosie's murder. Harry challenges her contentions, suggesting that she provoked Paris's actions by pulling out her own gun. That night, Harry visits Hanna, wanting to talk about some "aspects" of Paris's case and his remorse about Rosie. He then discusses his "personal feelings" toward Hanna and they make love. The next day, Harry questions Buster about Mary's behavior toward Paris. That night, Hanna tells Harry how she might need to leave town, though he insists that she doesn't. The following day at court, Paris reads his own statement on how the tragedy occurred.

Later, Paris accuses Harry of having "looked after" Hanna. Harry tells Paris that he shouldn't have gone to the Sayers' house on that fateful day. Eventually, Paris is charged with manslaughter and Harry declares that he is done representing him. Then, Paris is carted off to jail for his two-year sentence. However, by bribing the judge, Paris is immediately released. At the same time, Harry helps Hanna pack up her things at Paris's house. Paris quickly confronts them, claiming he ought to shoot Hanna. That night, Harry and Hanna discuss their future, as well as how the town has largely shunned Paris since he got out of jail. On the day of the town's sesquicentennial, Paris loads his pistol, removes his ailing mother from the nursing home, and takes her to Hanna's room. There, he shoots her dead. When Hanna returns, Paris points a gun to her head. Just then, Harry shows up. Instead of shooting Hanna, Paris shoots and kills Harry. As a shocked Hanna looks on, Paris then kills himself. A grief-stricken Hanna later finds herself at Harry's grave, noting that Paris, Harry, and Rosie will always haunt her dreams.


  • NETWORK: Showtime
  • DATE: April 20, 1991 Saturday 9:00 PM
  • RUNNING TIME: 1:39:02
  • COLOR/B&W: Color
  • CATALOG ID: T:27942
  • GENRE: Drama
  • SUBJECT HEADING: African-American Collection - Drama
  • SERIES RUN: Showtime - TV, 1991


  • Diana Kerew … Executive Producer
  • Frank Konigsberg … Producer
  • Larry Sanitsky … Producer
  • Jayne Bieber … Associate Producer
  • Stephen Gyllenhaal … Director
  • Pete Dexter … Writer, Based upon the novel by
  • David Shire … Music by
  • Dennis Hopper … Cast, Paris Trout
  • Barbara Hershey … Cast, Hanna Trout
  • Ed Harris … Cast, Harry Seagraves
  • Ray McKinnon … Cast, Carl Bonner
  • Tina Lifford … Cast, Mary Sayers
  • Darnita Henry … Cast, Rosie Sayers
  • Eric Ware … Cast, Henry Ray Sayers
  • RonReaco Lee … Cast, Chester Sayers
  • Gary Bullock … Cast, Buster Devonne
  • Sharlene Ross … Cast, Mother Trout's Nurse
  • Jim Peck … Cast, Estes Singletary
  • Dan Biggers … Cast, Mayor Horn
  • Ernest Dixon … Cast, Truck Driver
  • Wallace Wilkinson … Cast, Dr. Brewer
  • Ronn Leggett … Cast, Glass Man
  • Ed Grady … Cast, Judge Travis
  • Muriel Moore … Cast, Nurse
  • Georgia Allen … Cast, Seagrave's Maid
  • Rebecca Wackler … Cast, Woman Shopper
  • David Dwyer … Cast, Policeman
  • Danny Nelson … Cast, Chief Fixx
  • Phil Roper … Cast, Gas Station Attendant
  • Ted Manson … Cast, Hotel Clerk
  • Dan Albright … Cast, Reporter #1
  • Bruce Evers … Cast, Reporter #2
  • Harrison Avery … Cast, Preacher
  • Robin Florence … Cast, Receptionist
  • Suzanne Stewart … Cast, Elderly Woman
  • Mary Marshall Neri … Cast, Mother Trout
Continue searching the Collection ➾