Picture proves that a book that attracts a good deal of attention isn’t necessarily screen material. Conflict is the feud between a southern cotton planter (landowner) and tenant farmer (here described as ‘peckerwoods’). It’s the industrial capital vs labor wrangle in another setting, and not a particularly fascinating one at that.
Picture is not well done and it presents Richard Barthelmess in another lukewarm role, a role which he plays without vigor. Nub of the drama is that Marvin Blake (Barthelmess) belongs to the underdog tenant farmer class, but is befriended by the planter and finds himself between two fires – torn by loyalty to his class and an obligation to their enemy who also is his benefactor. Also Marvin falls in love with the planter’s daughter.
Bette Davis is the naughty-naughty planter’s daughter. Dorothy Jordan, as a humble farm girl, is just a shadow. Indeed, most of the people are puppet-like, including the Barthelmess character.