James Baldwin's novel gets a fine adaptation in this condensed treatment. It begins in 1935, although a series of flashbacks take the story to other eras. Winfield is a young Southerner who runs north and assumes the role of a Baptist lay preacher. He has to work as a day laborer to make
ends meet, while trying to raise his status in the church. He marries Cole, and they have two sons (Bond and Wimberly). But Winfield becomes an angry man and takes it out on those closest to him. The acting is all first-rate, with a special nod to Winfield in an unsympathetic role, Cole as his
longsuffering wife, and Woodard as a steamy siren.