It’s the mid-nineteenth century Louisiana. Falconhurst, a run down plantation, is owned by Warren Maxwell, and largely run by his son, Hammond Maxwell, who walks with a limp due to a childhood accident. Hammond is under pressure to get married and produce a male heir to continue the Maxwell legacy before Warren dies. With no experience courting a potential bride – his sexual experiences confined to slaves and whores – Hammond ultimately chooses his cousin Blanche for his wife in what would not be considered a courtship in its true sense. In turn, Blanche agrees to the marriage largely to escape the realm of her sadistic brother, Charles. As his father tells him is custom, Hammond, while on his and Blanche’s honeymoon in New Orleans, also obtains a slave as a go to sexual partner, he buying Ellen, who he met when she was given to him in hospitality when visiting who was then her master. Concurrently, Hammond also purchases Mede, a Mandingo, as a slave, something Warren had always wanted because of their physical strength. The plan with Mede is to breed him with their female slaves to produce further Mandingos who they can sell for a higher price than other black slaves. However, Hammond, out of circumstance, uses Mede in the potentially lucrative sport of no holds barred slave fighting, often to the death. Hammond and Blanche end up having an unsatisfying marriage largely due to something Hammond discovers on their wedding night, he turning to Ellen instead as the preferred woman in his life. Blanche, in return, takes her anger out on Hammond in the only way she knows how. In the process, it is their slaves who pay the price for their problems.
Stars James Mason, Susan George, Perry King