Carolina Skeletons (1991) - full transcript

After a long time in the army, an Afro-American soldier returns to his hometown, where, years ago, his brother was executed for the rape and murder of two white girls. The commando believes his brother to have been innocent and seeks a proof for that, but there are some people in the town who will stop at nothing to hide the secrets of their past...

♪ Multicom Entertainment Group
Present ♪

♪ Oh my darlin', Oh my
darlin' Clementine.

♪ Thou art lost and
gone forever

♪ Dreadful sorry, Clementine.

-♪ Drove she ducklings
to the water
-[cow moos]

-Come on Blossom.
-♪ Every morning just at nine

♪ Struck her foot
against a splinter

♪ Fell into the foaming brine.

♪ In a cavern, in a canyon

♪ Excavating for a mine

♪ Lived a miner, forty-niner

♪ And his daughter Clementine.

Don't you know you aren't
supposed to stare like that?

I just be on my way
to home, is all.

[Cindy Lou] Colored shacks
down by the mill, I suspect.

Yes 'um.

How old are you?

I be fourteen and three
months last week.

You don't look but 10. That's
all you are, isn't that so?

Pretty cow you have.


Yes 'um, she be pretty.

We best be headin' on now...

You keep her healthy,
she keep you healthy

that what my pa always says.

Cows are like gold.

[Linus] Yes 'um.

♪ Oh my darlin', Oh my
darlin' Clementine.

♪ Thou art lost
and gone forever

♪ Dreadful sorry, Clementine.

♪ [girls continue singing]
[cow moos]

You hold that cow
right, you hear?

I always be holding it right,
Mr. Crooks. You knows that.

I don't want that cow eatin'
outta my garden no more.

She got away that time. Besides,
Mama pay you back.

-Don't you back-sass!
-[Linus] You be a
crazy man, Mr. Crooks.

[Mr. Crooks] Go on!
Get offa my property!

This road here's free for
everyone. You can't just
tell me-

Go on! Get out of here!

Else I'll tell the Sheriff
you're on my land.

Be your word against mine!

Who's that?

It's just the wind, Sue Ellen.



♪ [creepy instrumental of
"Clementine" plays]




I won't tell. I
promise. Please...

Please, if you just
won't hurt me.

God will punish you!!!

♪ Linus Bragg, his name
was Linus Bragg

♪ They stole his life.
He was so young.

♪ No time to dream or plan.

♪ They stole his life.
Took him away.

♪ No chance to be a man.

♪ Home, home, God
called him home.

♪ In God's arms, he'll be.

♪ Home, home, God
called him home.

♪ Now he's free.

♪ Home, home, God
called him home.

♪ In God's arms, he'll be.

♪ Home, home, God
called him home.

♪ Now he's free.

♪ Home, home, God
called him home.

♪ Now he's free.

[Man] Get a load o'
this... Green Beret.

[Bragg] Afternoon.

Hey, boy... You a lifer?

[Bragg] So far.

I was in the big war.
We won that one.

[Bragg] And when you came
back, they gave you a big
parade, right?

You got that one right.

All we got now is long hair,
free sex and gook-lovers.

[Bragg] Afternoon.

[Old Man] Talk like a white man.

Must be from up north.

Ain't no stranger.

Didn't ask no directions
from nobody.

♪ They stole his life.
He was a boy.

♪ They know not
what they do.

♪ They stole his breath.
He closed his eyes

♪ and then his
life was through.

♪ Home, home, God called him
home. Now he is free...

♪ Yeah, yeah...

♪ Now he's free...

-[door closing]
-[children yelling]

[whisper] James...!

Yes, it's me, Mama.

[whispers] They said you
wouldn't never come back

but I know my boy. [coughs]


I'm going to call an ambulance--

What for?

I'm gonna get you into
the hospital right away.

-It's my time now.
-Mama, please...

Don't want any
more of this life.

What's this?

What's that?

You goin' off to school

and Linus always
takin' pictures...

Who took this picture?

I did. He made me.
[laughs softly]

I'd almost forgotten.

They killed him.

I know, Mama.

They say he the one...
butchered those two
little girls

but someone else
the one, not Linus.

That's right, Mama.

They stole his life.


♪ [music]

Linus is waitin' for me.

I know.

[Mama] Don't you see him...


right over there?

I see him, Mama.

Make things right for Linus.


[Bragg] Okay, Mama. I promise.

[Preacher] And so...

we lay to rest our
beloved sister

Mattie Bragg

she was never able to overcome
the injustice that took her
son away from her

but at last, she'll be
reunited with Linus

and live forever in
the house of the Lord.

Ashes to ashes... dust to dust.

[soft crying]

Thank you, Reverend. God
bless you. She was right.

Mr. Bragg, excuse me, sir.

Jus' want to say how sorry I
am about what happened.

T.J. Campbell.

Thank you, Mr. Campbell.
I appreciate that.



So you got your father's
looks after all.

And his badge.

[Jimmy] You're mother
was sick a long time.

Probably for the best.

[Bragg] Probably.

You know, when I heard
there was a Green Beret
poking around town...

an officer to boot, I
figured it was you.

I mean how many you
boys we got anyway?

How many you want?

Don't guess Crawfordville's
changed all that much, has it?

I don't know. Seems a whole lot
smaller than I remember.

Maybe you just been in
the big city too long.

How much sick leave
they give you?

Ten days.

Well, maybe you ain't gonna have
to spend it all down here then.

[dog barks]
[children talking]

[car horn honks]

♪ [music]

[Bragg] You never gave
up, did you Mama?

Never gave up on Linus.

[Linus] My name is Linus Bragg.

I am 14 years and
three months old

I - I can read and write.

And I do understand my rights.

[loud chatter]

[Prosecutor and Linus both read]
"On the afternoon of
Friday, March 28th last

I saw two young white
girls picking flowers

down by the Campbell sawmill

[Prosecutor] and made sexual
advances toward them--

[yelling, judge bangs gavel]

[Prosecutor] they resisted me

so I picked up a large stick

and struck them both, Sue Ellen
and Cindy Lou Ellerby

with deadly force."--

-[hitting gavel]

[Prosecutor] Now,
being in a panic

I threw their bodies into the

then I continued on my way
to my mother's place with
the family cow

which is what I was doing
prior to this incident.

I swear that I make this
statement of my own free will.

Signed: Linus Bragg."

[Prosecutor] Sheriff Stoker...

are you certain that the
defendant wrote this of his own
free will?

I am.
[crowd yelling]

[Bragg] Sure, Linus. Of your own
free will...

and in your own words, too.

[train whistle]
[dog barking]

Hey, Junior, open up! We got a
problem here.

[Bragg] Junior!

What the hell you
think you're doing?

The sign says "colored".

[Deputy Bryant] Haven't you
ever heard of civil rights?

Everybody can use
the main entrance.

[Bragg] Don't that beat all?

Sheriff Stoker here?

Who wants to know?

[Junior] So?

So who wrote the confession?

Signature says Linus Bragg--

Who wrote the confession?

My Pa more'n likely
had to help him

with a little clarification
of the facts, but...

my Pa had a certain way of doing
things when he was sheriff.

[Junior] So do I.

Is there a statute of
limitations on homicide
in this state?

Open homicide.

Your brother's case been closed
a long time.

Yeah, I'm reopening it.

That so?

[Bragg] Yeah. This isn't
a confession, this is a
death warrant.

Well, what do you expect me to
do about it?

Help me clear my
brother's name, Sheriff.

-[Junior] Just like that?

Just like that?

[Junior] Jimmy, let me
tell you something.

You come down here after, what
is it, thirty years?

And you start talkin' to me
about murder? And open

[Junior] And you expect to turn
back the clock and exonerate
poor little Linus?

My brother was murdered.

You been away a long time.

You're outta touch, boy!

Yeah, I'll try my best to keep
it that way.

You know all about it, do ya...

how your brother was murdered?

-Prove it!
-I will...

with or without you.

♪ [music]


[Bragg] Excuse me...

I need to look through the
records of a murder trial

that took place here
some years ago.

Archives. In the basement.

[Bragg] Thank you.

Do you have an
appointment with Cassie?

Yes, ma'am.

[Cassie] Anything in particular?

You just browsing?

Something in particular.

-[Bragg] You must be Cassie.

This may come as a shock but, uh

I don't have an appointment.

You're a newspaper
reporter, aren't you?

[Bragg] My face give me away?

Your accent.

Not the first Negro
newspaperman from up north

ever to step foot in
Crawfordville, you know.

I don't imagine there's
been very many.

Well, you can try and go through
the stacks by yourself

but I've been tryin' to
reorganize them now for
two months

and I still don't know
where everything is.

Well, I think I can find
what I'm lookin' for.

Well, I doubt it.

The previous recorder was
this fine old gentleman

who never put anything
in any kind of order.

So how did you luck out?


Fine old gentleman smoked
one cigar too many.

[Cassie] Left me with sixty
years of records to figure out.

Well, I won't need all sixty...

just one.

Find what you wanted?

-Close in five minutes

These books, are you certain
they cover all of 1934?

I'm positive.

What month was the trial?

October. October 28th.

There wasn't any trial
on that date.

Well, the newspaper
article says there was.

Transcripts must be missing.

[Cassie] This young boy
was the defendant?

[Bragg] Linus Bragg.

[Cassie] What happened to him?

He was electrocuted for murder.

He couldn't have been more
than ten or eleven years old!

He was 14.

And I believe he was innocent.

Apparently someone else didn't.

Let's see...

Well here it is. October 28th,
1934, trial by jury of one
Linus Bragg...

The Honorable Judge
Isador Bolt presiding...

Uh, defense attorney
received $10.00

court steno $4.10

and the jurors walked away with
35 cents apiece.

Court steno?

That means there had to be a
trial transcript.

Not on record...
[church bell ringing]

[Cassie] which is
highly unusual.

-[Bragg] Is Judge
Bolt still alive?
-Oh no.

They named a street after him.

They don't do that around here
unless you're dead.

[City Clerk] It's five o'clock!

Is everything all right there,

We're on our way up right now...

I'd like to be able to go
through some more files in the
morning, if I could.

[Cassie] Yes, of course, Mr...

[Bragg] Bragg.
[clears throat]

James Bragg.

Linus was my older brother.


[radio news]
♪ [suspenseful music]


[light tapping on door]

Who is it?

[T.J. Campbell] Mr. Bragg--

Um, I need to speak
to you, sir. Please!


Mr. Campbell...[T.J.
spits tobacco]

You ever see anyone
toss chaw that far?

No, can't say I have.

Well, I can't be...

lettin' anyone catch me talkin'

with you like this.

There's no one out here.

-[car horn honking]
-Please, I'm taking a
chance just bein' here.

There's somethin' I've
got to get off my chest
about your brother.

I tried to talk to
you at the funeral.

Come in.

How'd you know where to find me?

[laughs] Ain't nothin' happens
in Crawfordville, but...

well everyone knows.

Uh [clears throat]

I helped coordinate a
sit-in a while back, uh

for the Freedom Riders.

Over at the cafe.

That must've made you pretty
popular around here.

Eh, 'bout as popular as a bad
cold. [laughs] Yeah...

I lived here all my life,
don't remember you.

But I sure do remember
'bout your brother.

It's just something that's been
inside me all these years.

I believe I can be of
some help to you

but if the wrong people
find out about it--

Ahh, nobody needs to know
anything, Mr. Campbell.

[T.J. Campbell] T.J.

Everybody calls me that.

[Bragg] All right.

T.J., I can use all
the help I can get.

Sit down.

No thanks.

I was still awful young
myself at the time, but...

seemed to me like your
brother wasn't any more'n

just a scrawny little kid.

[laughs] He seemed a lot bigger
than that to me.

So what's been on your mind all
these years, T.J.?

Well, eh, at the time

and more than just a few of us

figured your brother was never
big enough to do

what they said he did.


[T.J. Campbell] And then,
uh, we got to wonderin'
about Dexter Cody.

Now ol' Dex, he had this
thing about... nigras.

you know, 'bout all
them young girls...

there in Shantytown.

Ol' Dex used to like to bed down
young black girls?

[T.J. Campbell] You bet.

Ever single one he could get his
hands on. He'd just take 'em.

[Bragg] How young?

Well, not too much older than
them two little white girls.

So we began to think maybe he
tried somethin' on them.

Well, why didn't you go to the
sheriff back then?

-[Bragg] Mmm-hmm.

Well, no punk 18 year-old's
gonna tell Hiram Stoker his

deputy was maybe foolin'
around with kids.

You mean to tell me that my
brother may have died

because nobody had guts enough
to stand up to the sheriff?

[T.J. Campbell] Well, I
wasn't the only one!

You have to understand
them times!

And truth be known, ol'
Dex still sends a shiver
down my spine.

Dexter Cody is still alive
and here in Crawfordville?

Hope you ain't thinkin'
a goin' over his place.

Do you know where he lives?

Ol' Dex, talkin' to a black man?

Huh, like you livin' in the
Twilight Zone! Mmmm.

♪ [music]

[gunfire, metal clanking]

Deputy Cody.

-I got me a sign out there in
the road in case you missed it.

I want to talk to you.

Crack the shotgun and pull the
shells out one at a time where
I can see them.

You have a hell of a way to
start a conversation, mister.

[dog barking]

I want to talk to
you about a murder.

Sure. I got lots of
'em to talk about.

1934. Two white girls, children.

Nigger boy did it. Beat
'em to death with a club.

How do you know the boy did it?

I'm going to turn
around, mister, see who
it is I'm talkin' with.

The gun stays broke. Okay?

Turn very slowly.


Army's gone to hell,
that's for sure. [laughs]

[Deputy Cody] How do
I know he did it?

Well, see, he signed
a confession.

Were there any other
suspects other than Linus?

What we need other suspects
for? He signed a confession...

there was a witness.

There was a witness that saw
Linus kill those two girls?

Crippled up old nigger...Elijah.

Lives by hisself on the river.

[Deputy Cody] Here you are
askin' all these questions, I
don't know the hell why.

That's my business.

You one of them uppity niggers,
believe that Martin Luther fella
tells you on T.V.?

That don't hold truck
down here, boy.

I'm the one with the gun.

[Deputy Cody] Well, you
got that one right.

You're really somethin',
comin' in here like this.

You used to like to go to
shantytown, Dex, didn't you?

Had me a good time
now and again.

Liked those little black
girls, didn't you?

[Deputy Cody]
[laughs] Sure as hell did.

How about little white girls?

[Bragg] What about two?


Dex, who's that
you're talkin' with?

My wife stays outta this, hear?

No one!

He's leaving', anyhow.


We're gonna have at
it sooner or later.

You can count on it.

♪ [music]

Dex, who was that?

Dead man. [crack of gun]

[City Clerk] I told you the
records are off limits to
unauthorized personnel.

You might as well just go back
where you came from.

-I'm from here.
-Not anymore.

Will you please let
me see Cassie?

You think you're so
superior showin' up here

after all this time, gonna
make things right.

All you're gonna do is
make trouble for us.

Listen, listen all I want is two
minutes with Cassie.

I promise I'll leave the
basement after that.

She isn't in the basement.



[Cook] Darlene...
Here's your two over.

Thanks, I'll be right there.

There you go, hon.

[door slams]

Who the hell is that...

[customer chatter]

I'm sorry I missed our
appointment this morning.

Is the coffee any good?

Coffee, please!

He's got some nerve!

I'd have been on time...

but I had a meeting I
simply couldn't break.

I don't think you
entirely appreciate the
problems you're causing.

Do you know a man by the
name of Dexter Cody?

Yes. Everybody knows Dex.

And does everybody know that
Dexter Cody is a child molester?

Thank you.

Has it ever occurred to
anyone that maybe,

just maybe, my brother
Linus was nothing

more than just a cover-up?

You seem to have
reached a rather

dramatic conclusion after
a few days, Mr. Bragg.

-[Bragg] Yeah, yeah.
-[drops spoon]

Maybe I'm the only
one that's just...

taken the time or the
trouble to dig deeper

than a frightened
little black boy.

Well, you're not!

[Cassie] The court
stenographer died in 1948.

One or two of the jurors
might still be alive

I couldn't find out where.

The defense attorney moved
to Charleston soon after
the trial,

never came back.

He still lives there.

You must have gone to an awful
lot of trouble to dig this up.


I wanted to find
out if it was true.

If they really did execute an
innocent 14-year-old boy.


I was born and raised in South
Carolina, Mr. Bragg.

I have to believe that the law
took its proper course.

And before you start throwing
out any more accusations,

you might consider
getting a few facts.

You got it, lady.

♪ [dramatic music]

♪ [dramatic music]

[Secretary] May I help you?

My name is Mr. Louis.
I called about a meeting
with Judge Brickstone.

Oh, yes. You're from Historical
Register Magazine.

Your Honor, the gentleman
who is doing the article
on Charleston is here.

-[Intercom] Send him in.
-Yes sir

[Secretary] Go right
in, Mr. Louis.

-Good afternoon, Your Honor.
-[Slurps soup]

Well um..., so you're
interested in, um,

knowing all about my renovation
of this building, Mr... Mr.

Uh, you can sit down.

I might have a very
interesting story for you.

You certainly have a lot of
pictures here, Judge Brickstone.

I've know my fair share of
politicians over the years.

Not all of them somebody
I'd like to meet in a
dark alley! [laughs]

But, eh, you won't, eh,
quote me on that, now
will you? [laughs]

[Judge Brickstone] Now
where would you like to
start? The furnishings?

How about Crawfordville?

Crawfordville? What
on earth for?

[Bragg] You used to be a lawyer
in Crawfordville, didn't you?

[Judge Brickstone]
Ancient history!

Nasty little backwater
town. Nasty people.

Nasty murders, too.

I'm not sure how all of that
ties in with my renovation.

[Bragg] It doesn't.

Then what exactly is your
business with me, sir.

Linus Bragg. Remember him?


[Bragg] You might be interested
in what I have to say.

You are aware that I am a judge?

Uh, Miss Conway, I want
you to telephone my--

Much rather talk with you than
the newspaper.

[Secretary] Yes, judge?

Telephone my barber tell
him I'm running a little
later than usual.

You recognize that?

Mmm. That is the uh, confession
of that little negro boy.

[Bragg] Yes.

That little negro boy,
Linus Bragg.

You were his defense attorney?

I was appointed to be
his attorney, yes.

Well, why didn't you file an
appeal or something?

On what grounds?

Well, he was facing
the electric chair.

Anybody could tell that
he couldn't have written
that confession.

We were kinda up against it, eh.

That was an election year..

Nobody, from the governor on
down, wanted to have anything
to do with this case.

My hands were tied.

But did you ever speak with
Linus about the murders?

Well, of course I did,
on several occasions.

[Bragg] Judge...

What did he tell you? Huh?

That was thirty or more years
ago. You expect me to remember
his very words?


[Judge Brickstone] He said...

I think he said, uhh,
he didn't mean it.

Didn't mean what?

[Judge Brickstone] Didn't mean
to look at the two little
white girls...

He didn't mean to look
at them? Is that all?

You must understand,
in those days

a negro getting caught
looking at a white woman

was going to get a
beating, or worse.

Was there any evidence
against Linus other
than this confession?


[Judge Brickstone] He
placed Linus near the
scene of the crime.

So he didn't actually see Linus
and the two girls together?

He saw him near enough to
the scene of the crime to
convince a jury.

If you'd seen the pictures
of those two little girls

you'd have found Linus
guilty yourself!

There were photographs?

Horrible things, just horrible.

-Eh, ehm, pictures of their
broken bodies.
-♪ [somber music]

Their heads crushed by blows
from a huge piece of wood...

[Judge Brickstone]
tree branch, most likely.

Big as a tree branch, huh?

[Bragg] You really think
that, uh, Linus was strong
enough to do that?

You threw him away, didn't you?

His life didn't mean a damn
thing to you.

I did the best I could.


It was an election year.

♪ [music]

♪ [dark music]


[Bragg] Mr. Crooks?

Who's that?

You probably won't remember
me, but you might remember
my brother...

[Bragg] Linus Bragg?

I don't see so good
no more. [coughing]

[Elijah Crooks] Come on closer,
where I can get a look.

You tell Linus to keep
hold o' that cow, hear?

[Elijah Crooks] Don't want that
cow in my garden no more.

Yes sir, I surely will.

Think he smart with
all that back-sass.

Tellin' me the road's for
everybody. Hhm

[Elijah Crooks] Just
back-sass all it is!

Yes sir.

[Bragg] You hear about those
two white girls who got killed
not too far from here?

Them two?

Just down the road
there about a mile.

I don't fish that spot
no more. Bad luck.

'Course, Linus was down there,
the day the girls were killed.

I seen him on my road there.
Him and that cow.

Now, the white man, I got no
choice. He go where he please.

[Bragg] You remember seeing a
white man on the road that day?

He the one.

He's the one what?

He the one.

Mr. Crooks, was there a white
man with those two little girls?

Not supposed to say.

Well, you help me.
I'll help you.

[sighs] Well, I ain't goin' get
in any more trouble, is I?

No. Times have changed.
The law protects us now.


Mr. Crooks...

Was there a white man with
those two little girls?

He told me not to say
nothin' to nobody.

But you've already told
me about Linus.

No, no, not Linus. I
can talk about Linus.

And the white man?
Made you promise?

[Elijah Crooks] Can't talk
about the white man.

[screeching of tires]

What's going on, Junior?

Shut up and get in the car.

-You heard the Sheriff, move!

Inside. Get on in!

How you be, old man?

Juss fine, suh.

Every day's a new day.

[Junior] This man here
didn't bother you none?

No suh.

Nice talkin' to
you again, Elijah.

Have a good day.

Yes, suh.

[engine starts up]

It was a white man.

A white man. Not your
brother, killed them
two little girls?

That's right.

I don't suppose you
know who it might be?

Well Dexter Cody
likes little girls.

Why don't you talk to him?

[flies buzzing]

You're not gonna get
away with this.

-[Junior] Dexter knew
how to use a shotgun.

That is, if you just fall
on it by accident.

What're you talking about?

Miss Cody, is this the man you
heard threaten your husband?

Yes! That's him!

[Junior] You get
him out of here.

-Damn it, Junior,
you've got it wrong!
-♪ [dramatic music]

Doin' to me what you did to my

Junior, you're wrong!

I'm sorry, ma'am.


[cell door clanks open]

[Officer] Sheriff Stoker
waitin' on you.

[Junior] What were you doing
harassing our illustrious
native son Judah Brickstone?

He was Linus' attorney.

I asked him a few
questions. He gave me
a few simple answers.

[Junior] Find anything out?

I wouldn't want him
to defend me.

[laughs] Oh Jimmy.

You know it's lucky for you
you were in Charleston when ol'
Dex fell on that shotgun.

Mark, you can, eh, take
them handcuffs off.

-Thank you, Mark.
-Yes, sir.

What makes you believe that
this was an accident?

[sighs] Sit down.

[Junior] You know, Jimmy...

you got me thinking maybe we got
us a problem here after all.'re free to leave.


[laughs] That is
the general idea.

Yeah, well, I'm not quite
ready to leave yet.

Jimmy, you gonna get
me all worried again.

[Bragg] There is still some
things about this I don't

Well, that's one thing
we do have in common.

You want another?

[Junior] Surprise me.

Elijah Crooks.

The one-armed bastard
out by the river?

Claims to have seen a white
man on the road the day the
girls were killed.

I thought he meant Dexter Cody.

I could be wrong.

How long you been an officer?

Fifteen years.

[laughs] A little late startin'
out, weren't you?

Late bloomer.

Must'a done pretty good,
making bird Colonel in
the Green Berets?

Piece of cake.

Probably just as well.

Might not have amounted to
much if you you'd have
hung around here.

[Junior] I remember you, Jimmy.
Before you went north on us.

And I sure remember your father.

He used to scare the
hell outta me, man.

Ha. Scared the hell
outta me, too.

♪ [mellow music]

Tell me about Linus.

Him and me, we were
about the same age.

He was a lot smaller'n
me, of course.

Before the trouble
started, he, eh, used to
hang around the downtown

just like the rest
of us boys did.

Didn't mix...

but he'd wave.

He'd been white, we'd
probably been friends.

[Junior] Truth be told...

I wish I could wipe
Linus outta my mind.

[Bragg] Elijah do anything
else besides fish?

Well, he used to
work in the mill...

till he lost his arm on
one of them band saws.

He lived here in this
company shack then.

Folks felt sorry for
him, arm and all...

Bait's still on the hook.

Must'a caught a big one.

-It's too big.
-[dark music]

[crows caw]

[projector clicking]

♪ [dark version of 'Oh
My Darlin' plays]


Mr. Bragg.

You like hangin' out
in patrol cars?

You won't tell Sheriff
Stoker on me, will you?

There's not much to do
around here after the
sun goes down, is there?

You have to admit you have
brought a kind of excitement
to Crawfordville...

not to mention dead bodies.

You been in Crawfordville
all your life?

[Cassie] Went to
college in Aiken.

Lived there with my husband
'til the divorce and--


I don't think you should
have come back here.

I heard you talked to
Dex and Elijah.

More or less.

Two people dead...

Worth it so far?

Well, for the person who
murdered them, in all
likelihood, yes.

I heard it was an accident.

Well, in Dexter's
case, possibly.

But Elijah was strangled
from behind with his own
fishing line.

He was dead before he
went into the river.

You trying to frighten me?

Have you done anything you
should be frightened about?

[door slams] I'm talking
to you, aren't I?



What are you doin' here?

You told Mama you'd
be home for dinner.

She got worried.

[Cassie] So we drove around
until we found your car.

No secrets in Crawfordville.
[Cassie laughs]

I somehow missed the connection.

[Cassie] I didn't know how to
tell you that the sheriff

in all those old
newspaper photographs

was my grandfather.

Then I sorta lost the courage.

Hope you don't feel the
same way about Linus.

I think you know how I feel.

We're gonna go home now, Jimmy.

[Cassie] 'Night.

[Bragg] Good night.

[train horn]

[engine revs]

[screeching tires]

♪ [dramatic music]

[car door opens and closes]

[car door opens and closes]

[Sighs, mumbles to himself]

Not allowed to use terms
like that anymore.


"Negro." "Colored". We
use "Black" now.

Hmm. That's nice.

Yeah, it's like the V.C.
over in Vietnam.

Can't say "gooks" in the
papers these days.

What the hell else you
supposed to call the
Viet Cong?

How about "the enemy?"

[Bragg] "Theodore J. Campbell

18, and friend Luke Reddy

also 18

found the club used in
the vicious murders of
the Ellerby girls.

According to Campbell,
whose wealthy family owns
and operates the saw mill,

the two youths were walking
along the levee

when they spied the
bloodied piece of wood
hidden in the bushes..."

♪ [somber music]

[dog howls]


[knock on door]

Who's out there?

James Bragg.

Aren't you going
to invite me in?

This place ain't what
it was but then,

not a whole lot of
folks drop by anymore.

But they used to?

Ha. When the family meant
something to Crawfordville.

[T.J. Campbell] Hm. The mill...

[Bragg] What happened
to all of that?

-[running water]
-Our mill supplied hardwood...

to build war ships, startin'
with the Confederacy

straight through to uh...

Department of the Navy.

And then come metal hulls.


Now the mill's gone.

And uh, family's all gone.
Friend's are gone.

Until the bottom dropped
out of the market,

our mill was the next
best thing, heh...

to a plantation.

Worked them blacks
cradle to grave.

Now, now that's why I
did what I did with...

them freedom riders and all...

uh, just...tryin' to apologize.

[sighs in his glass]

Sure must have disappointed
a lot of people.

[T.J. Campbell] Oh, yeah.
I disappointed 'em plenty.

I been disappointing
'em all my life.

My daddy worst of all. He damn
near cut me out of this will.

[T.J. Campbell] Well, lots of
folks around here

wish he was still
around instead of me.

You drivin' in like this ain't
gonna help matters any.

Oh, I wasn't followed.

Yeah? Don't be too sure.

What is it you really after?

Oh, um...

You know that club...

that was used to kill
the Ellerby girls?


You never told me you found it.

Week after the murders.

Had their blood
dried all over it.

Big as a tree branch, huh?

Uhh, coulda been.
I don't remember.

Well, what about you buddy,
Luke Reddy? Do you think he
might remember?

Luke Reddy's no
friend of mine...


[T.J. Campbell] Luke's Klan.


Was he Klan back then?

He was the one that wanted
to lynch your brother.

You know, huh...

There's somethin' I never did
understand about that.

How'd he come across that
bloody piece of wood,

when nobody else could find it?

Never did think much about that
at the time.

♪ [music]

[indistinct chatter]

[sports announcer]

[Junior] Hi, Daddy.

Ball game pretty
good today, is it?

Ya'll been takin'
that medicine they're
supposed to give you?

Your glass here's empty.

Look what I brought. [laughs]

This oughta make it taste
a little bit better.

[Junior] Naw, just
a minute, now.

Gotta put some
medicine in it, Daddy.

There you go, Daddy...


that a boy...

Oh that is good, that's good.

I got some bad news, Daddy.

Deputy Cody passed away.

[Junior] I'm sorry.

I know you two

shared some real good times.

But death comes to all of us
who have patience. [laughs]

Didn't you always laugh when
you told me that. [sighs]

Got me to thinkin' about
that time you took me to
the execution,

that young negro boy, 'bout
my age. Linus Bragg.

I was tryin' to remember whether
it was Dex or you that eh,

got that boy to confess...

Did y'all have any other
suspects besides him?

[Hiram Stoker] You
hungry yet, boy?


-I asked you a question, son.
-[Linus Bragg whispering

You hungry yet?

Sure am, suh.

[Hiram Stoker] That's better.

But first, I got a
little problem,

'bout them two
little white girls.

Would you mind helpin' me
clear up a few details, Linus?

No, suh.

You go to that colored
school, don't you?

Learnin' all about how
to read and write?

Little bit.

Learnin' too, about that feelin'
all us men gets between our
legs, I'll just bet.

Heh heh. You don't have
to tell me about it.

Just got to know what
happened with them girls.


That smells good!

Hey I don't believe you had
a bite to eat since this
morning, have you son?

That's right, sheriff.

Well, the truth'll make
you feel better.

Let me talk to you a minute.

Now, son, I don't
understand. I know...

that you didn't mean for
anything bad to happen
to those girls.

You just got a peek at 'em...

ain't that the way it
got started? Just a
little peek?

Yes, suh.

Well, one thing leads to another
and, before you know it,

everything gets outta control.

Shoot, that could
happen to any man.

Yes suh, but I--

[Hiram Stoker] Now, son,
I know what went on.

We got all the evidence we need.

So I just...

sketched things out for you...

best I could.

And I want you to read it over.

[Hiram Stoker] Only
thing missin' is...

the stick that killed 'em.

You know where it's at?

No suh? Sure enough don't.

Now, Linus, this is the truth,
ain't it? I gotta know.

Your mama's tole you I
bet a thousand times,

about how you're not supposed to
ever tell a lie, ain't that so?

Yes, suh.

Well, you know how to sign
your name, don't you?

Yes, suh.

All right.

Here's a pen for ya.

No, wait. Let me
help you, son...

You just unscrew it,
you see? Like that.

There, that's it.

Then it'll make a nice
black mark for you.

-♪ [somber harmonica song]


There, that's right.


Good boy.

I hope you got a good
appetite, because we got
ribs and fried chicken.

That's what you gonna
git. Eat hearty.

That a boy. Feelin'
better already.

[Junior] It just don't seem
like that boy could'a done
all what they said.

You know, I been searching high
and low for that old case file.

Only place I ain't looked
is the footlocker.

[indistinct screaming]

Daddy, Daddy, please...

askin' your permission, sir.

I got to know what happened.

-[indistinct screaming]
-[Junior] Daddy, please...

I got to know what
really happened.

The way I see it,
you got two choices.

You put the bags on
the hood of the car

and hope they stay balanced long
enough for you to get your car
keys out...


Or you can throw
them up in the air

and hope they stay up there
long enough for you to get
the door open.

-I think I like
this way the best.
-[Bragg] Good choice.

Somebody was waiting for me
outside the motel last night.

Drove around the parking
lot a couple of times,

and then they left.

-Did you see who it was?
-No, it was too dark.

But I have got a sneaking
suspicion that whoever killed
those two little girls

is still hanging around
here somewhere.

[Bragg] Cassie, I need a favor.

My leave is almost up, and
I'm having a hell of a time

trying to get a
look at a will...

You don't need me for that.

Anything that has gone
through probate is on file
at the clerk's office.

Well, this one isn't.

It's been sealed.

[car door slam]

♪ [somber music]

[car engine]

You sure you know where
you're goin' there, boy?

This is Luke Reddy's
shop, isn't it?


I'm sure.

♪ [radio music]

[Bragg] Luke Reddy?

Well, I been hearin'
about you all week.

You know, I hate the military.

And I hate officers
in the military.

But more that anything,
I hate niggers.

Heh, you put all that
together in one package,
whatta you got?

You got your hands full.

[Luke] Yeah.

[Luke] Yeah, I heard.
I heard you was a smart boy.

Ol' Dex, oh yeah he's
real impressed.

Yeah, you...

[Luke] You sure got the
drop on him, all right.

Ain't gonna happen twice.

Go on...

get over there.

Get over there!

Well, what is this?
Now, what is this?

You move your hand again, I'll
kill you where you stand.

You may be smart boy, but you's
a damn fool comin' here!

Hey hey, Luke. Luke!

If your brother went to the
electric chair for a crime

he didn't commit,
what would you do?

-I'd get- get even.
-Uh huh.

Now, what in the hell
you doin' here?

You found that murder weapon,
that tree branch?

That ain't no secret.

-How big was it?
-It was big and heavy.
and was big enough to

bash the brains of them
two little white girls!

Was it, uh, too big for my
brother Linus to hold?

Well, I never give that
a lot of thought.

Well, T.J. seems to think
it might have been.

Well, T.J.'s a damn fool and
he always has been.

Oh yeah, well, what were you
doin' with him?

He bet me a dollar I couldn't
find it, since nobody knew where
it was supposed to be.

We just went out there, and
we just got real lucky.


It was damn unlucky for my
brother, Linus, wasn't it.?

[Mechanic] Hey, Luke...

What I wanna know is, why
the hell you talkin' with
this nigger?

Didn't you never hear of
business before pleasure?



You shouldn't of done Ol' Dex...


If I find out you had something
to do with my brother's murder,

[Bragg] I'm coming back.



♪ [slow piano music]

Look at that.

[Junior] Here we go. "Ellerby".

I thought I'd look forward
to this, but now, I'm not
so sure...

[Junior] Maybe now
you can understand

why feelings were runnning
high against your brother.

I can understand why
feelings were running
so high, but there's

no way that Linus could have
ever done this!

These two girls were raped.

Their bodies were tossed
around like a rag doll.

Sue Ellen's neck was
broken by a stranglehold.

Someone held her up in
the air with one hand.

And a little boy weighing
less than eighty pounds

is supposed to have used a
club half his size? Damn it!

What the hell is wrong
with you people?


I'm sorry.

Won't bring Linus back.

[Linus] My name is Linus Bragg.

I'm fourteen years
and three months old.

I can read and write...

-[breathing heavily]
-[audible heartbeat]

♪ [somber piano music]

[Chaplain] "Unto thee, oh
Lord, do I lift up my soul.

Oh, my God, do I trust in thee.

Let me not be ashamed.

Let not mine enemies
triumph over me...

[indistinct talk from Chaplain]-

[Hiram Stoker] How you
comin' there, Junior?

How long before...?

[Hiram Stoker] Soon.


You gonna be seein' some things
that may not set too well...

We get home, I got enough peach
brandy for the both of us.

[indistinct prayer]

[Chaplain] Remember thou me for
my goodness sake oh Lord...

[heavy breathing]

[shackles tightening]

[Linus continuously sobbing]

[audible heartbeat gets louder]

This will only last a moment.

[Chaplain] Think about it
like you're leaping over a
wide ditch.

And when you land, you
will be in Heaven.


I be jumpin' over a big ditch

Heaven's on the other side.

[heartbeat gets louder]

[Warden] Is there
anything you want to say?

Any last words?


[muffled crying]

[electricity flowing]

Please, can't we go.

[electricity flowing]


What is it, Junior?
What's the matter?

What is it, Junior?
What's the matter?



[horn blows]

[Redy] Here's a little
present for you and your
freedom rider friend!


[indistinct talking]

[glass explodes]


Hey, Bragg! It's your
"welcome wagon"!

Come on out. Bring
some marshmallows.

Hey, boy!

Come on out here and
meet your neighbors!

[klan member] Come on out boy!

We're sorry we didn't get
a chance to hang your
damned brother.

Now, I'll tell you what, since
this is America, we'll let you
take his place!


-[car doors closing]
-[engines revving]

Linus. Help me.

♪ [dark music]

[projector clicking]

-[dramatic music]
-[frogs, crickets]

Mr. Bragg?

I didn't think you
were going to come.

This is where it
happened, isn't it?


You know what I told
old man Crooks?

"Times have changed."

Isn't that funny.

"Times have changed." [laughs]

The Last Will and Testament of
Harrison Baines Campbell...

filed into probate May 27, 1947.

See his wife preceded him
in death, and so T.J. was
the only heir...

He was apparently
very disappointed in his son.
He only left him the house,

and just enough money to get by.

He also left five thousand
dollars to Sheriff Hiram Stoker,

and the same to Dexter Cody,

and one thousand dollars and a
lifetime's occupancy of a
shack to Elijah Crooks.

What happened to the
rest of the money?

You'd never guess.

He left the bulk of his
estate, well over one
hundred thousand dollars,

[Cassie] to the NAACP.


No wonder he had
this will sealed.


Why did he leave my granddaddy
and Dexter Cody five thousand
dollars a piece?

[game show host and sound
effects from T.V.]

Hey, old Sheriff.

You keep watchin'
them game shows,

you gonna turn into one.

You know, as long as I can
remember, Daddy...

I been troubled by what
happened to that young
Negro boy.

Now, with all due respect, sir,

I am gonna need your help just
one more time.

[Junior] Now, I know
this is yours, Daddy,

because I recognize
the handwriting.

It's all about the
Ellerby murders.

Now, I followed your
investigation to right here.

Then all of a sudden, it
stops. Page just got torn out.

But damn if I didn't find an
imprint of your handwriting
right here.

But you taught me good.

So you know what I did?
I took a pencil. I scratched
over it just like you said...

and then held it up
to a mirror, hah...

And best as I can see, it says
"ck camp poss rcrd."

Now, I figure that the "CK"
stands for "check",

and the "poss rcrd"
possible criminal records

of some of the people
in one of the camps.

You want that?

♪ [dramatic music]


[Bragg] You see these marks
here... and there?

[Cassie] Bruises?

Well, that's where she was
hit by the tree trunk. But
what else?

You see here on the neck
and here on the back?

Those aren't bruises,
those are bite marks.

And look at that irregularity...

[Cassie] Between the two front


[Braggs] T.J.'s father didn't
give a damn about Black causes.

He had that will sealed because
he felt guilty about something.

Well, where are you going?


[projector clicking]

Your father would be
very proud of you.

I don't suppose we could
work somethin' out?

You mean some sort of
financial arrangement

so I don't tell
anybody about, uh,

this little slide show?

Something along them lines.

Well, I was thinking more
along the lines of the
Ellerby murders.


your father already gave most
to his money to the NAACP.

That doesn't prove anything.

[Bragg] No, it doesn't.

But your irregular
front tooth does.

[Braggs] You never did get
a look at the autopsy
pictures, did you?

See there?

It's right there in
black and white.

Look at it!

Where you bit that little
girl on the shoulder.

Remember? Hhm?

[Bragg] Yeah...


Your father had to make several
financial arrangements about
that one, didn't he?

Never meant for it to happen,
that thing with your brother.

Thought he'd get five, ten years
hard labor.

Well, he died so you could live.

That's right.

Same with ol' Dex? Elijah?

-[T.J.] And now you!
-[shotgun blast]

[shotgun blast]

[shotgun blast]

[shotgun blast]

Don't try it.

What I got to lose?


Jimmy, drop it!

[Junior] Drop the gun.

The other one.

Not yet.

What's the matter
with you, Junior?

Can't you see he broke in
here and tried to kill me?

I don't want to
shoot you, Jimmy.

Then you shoot me,
I'll shoot him.

Whose side you on?

[Bragg] He murdered those girls.

I know that.

[T.J. Campbell] Do you realize
what you're sayin', Junior?

You better talk to your
daddy about all this.

Jimmy, put the gun down and
let the law take its course.

That's already been tried.

-It was an election year!
-[Junior] Jimmy,

I'm asking you to trust me.


You really had me goin' there.

I actually thought that
you believed him. Ha.

I do, T.J.

It's all over...


Well... I guess it is...

[Shotgun blast]

[church bells ringing]

[dog barking]

[Cassie] So soon?

I can't say I'm
sorry to be leaving.

Can't say we're
sorry to see you go.


I'm not asking for anything.

I don't want forgiveness.

I just feel you had a right
to know, that, um...

I was the last person your
brother ever saw.

I was there when
they killed him.

Linus looked at me
with those eyes...

just before they put that mask
down over his face.

[Junior] I knew he didn't do it.

But I was 14 years old.

And my father couldn't be wrong.

I wish I could bring
him back, Jimmy.

You're not going to end up in
those archives for the next
60 years, are you?

[laughs] No.

But I'm not gonna abandon
Crawfordville, either.


Thanks for you help.

I hope you'll come
back again someday.

Heh, This poor ol' place could
use all the help it can get.


♪ [soothing music]

[car engine]

You think he'll ever
come back here?

I don't know if
we could take it.

♪ [soothing music]

♪ [jazz music]

♪ [Multicom Entertainment
Group jingle]