Interesting film filled with great scenes--both the small town settings and the wild KKK meeting in the woods. The opening ten minutes is so shocking for its time it will really make you perk up.
This film began with a noir edge. While visiting her sister in a small town, a woman witnesses the murder of an expose reporter by members of the Ku Klux Klan. Ginger Rogers and Doris Day were odd choices for these dramatic roles, but they manage to pull off a more than credible effort. When she meets her brother-in-law, Rogers realizes he is the murderer. The first 30 minutes of this film are riveting, owing primarily to Ginger Rogers' subtle and restrained performance as the witness. She doesn't have much dialog but emotes with body and expression beautifully. Notable is the five minute scene where Rogers meets her brother-in-law and, realizing her sister has married a murderer, freezes in horror unable to speak. The level of tension is palpable. This tension dissipates for awhile until the ending where Ginger is in real danger.
Steve Cochran was excellent as the loud mouth lout murderer. The interaction between he and Ginger Rogers was what keeps viewer's attention and interest, as they flashed anger combined with an undercurrent of lust at each other. Things really sparked when Steve and Ginger were on the screen. The crux of the movie is whether she will testify at the inquest as to what she witnessed; with the knowledge what that would mean to her pregnant sister.
Ronald Reagan, in one of his best performances, cast as the crusading District Attorney who pressures Ginger Rogers to testify to what she witnessed. His strait laced qualities made him a better choice for the lead than more liberal leaning actors because he fits so well into the small town setting. Doris Day, in a non singing role was fine as the younger sister and wife.
There is a shocking and violent scene at the end where Reagan saves Ginger from a flogging, denouncing the Klan members and pointing out that he knew who they were even with the robes and hoods, and denounces them for "desecrating the cross". Alas, he could not save Doris Day from being accidently shot.
Many people criticized this film because it did not portray the Ku Klux Klan in a harsh enough light, but this did not deter from the crux of the film: whether Rogers will testify, will the guilty be convicted and what will be the consequences.