Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Henry Harrison Kroll's novel Cabin in the Cotton was an attack on wealthy southern landowners who exploited their sharecroppers. While the landowners still don't come off too well in Warner Bros.' film version of Kroll's novel, the film tries to avoid stepping on powerful toes, even composing an opening-title disclaimer pointing out that both sides of the issue had arguments in their favor. Richard Barthelmess, 23 going on 45, plays a sharecropper's son who wants to improve his lot with a college education. Land baron Berton Churchill advises Barthelmess' father to get those "silly ideas" out of our hero's head, lest he forget his place. Bette Davis plays Churchill's seductive daughter, whose influence with daddy enables Barthelmess to rise to the position of Churchill's bookkeeper. When Barthelmess discovers that Churchill is cooking the books, Churchill counters that Barthelmess wouldn't have any chance to advance himself without the largess of the landowners. He even tries to get Barthelmess to inform on those field workers who plan to organize a union. A potentially bloody confrontation between the workers and management is quelled by Barthelmess, who manages to wangle compromises from both sides. The only thing Barthelmess loses is Davis, but he is compensated by the affections of longtime sweetheart Dorothy Jordan. Nobody really remembers the plot complications in Cabin in the Cotton; to most viewers, the film is memorable only for Bette Davis' classic line "Ah'd love to kiss ya, but ah jest washed ma hair."
landowner, accounting, class-clash, sharecropper, son, daughter, finances, union [labor union]