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A young woman, Tara Maguire (Robin Wright) scandalizes her provincial Irish village in the 1950s by having a baby out of a wedlock, and refusing to name the father. She has a rare beauty and every man in town desires her, especially Sergeant Hegarty (Albert Finney). The arrival of a dramatic troupe stirs things up even more, especially when she falls in love with one f the “Playboys”, Tom Casey (Aidan Quinn).
Director Mario Van Peebles chronicles the complicated production of his father Melvin’s classic 1971 film, “Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song.” Playing his father in the film, Van Peebles offers an unapologetic account of Melvin’s brash and sometimes deceptive conduct on the set of the film, including questionable antics like writing bad checks, tricking a local fire department and allowing his son, Mario, to shoot racy sex scenes at the age of 11.
In the 1950s, brothers Jacey and Doug Holt, who come from the poorer side of their sleepy Midwestern town, vie for the affections of the wealthy, lovely Abbott sisters. Lady-killer Jacey alternates between Eleanor and Alice, wanting simply to break the hearts of rich young women. But sensitive Doug has a real romance with Pamela, which Jacey and the Abbott patriarch, Lloyd, both frown upon.
During a shootout in a saloon, Sheriff Hunt injures a suspicious stranger. One of the villagers takes care of him in prison. One day they both disappear – only the spear of a cannibal tribe is found. Hunt and a few of his men go in search of the prisoner and his nurse.
Joel Barish, heartbroken that his girlfriend underwent a procedure to erase him from her memory, decides to do the same. However, as he watches his memories of her fade away, he realises that he still loves her, and may be too late to correct his mistake.
Three converging story lines involving bootleggers, a serial killer and drug dealers are followed. A former drug dealer tries to go straight, but comes across a stash of stolen drugs. Meanwhile, a middle-aged suburban housewife hides a sadistic and vicious streak.