Bette Davis earns her second Academy Award for Best Actress in this excellent drama of the pre-Civil War South.
The film is set in 1852 in New Orleans, and while the Civil War is years away, tensions are already simmering between Northerners and Southerners. Julie Marsden (Bette Davis), a Southern belle with quite the stubborn streak, is happily engaged to Preston "Pres" Dillard (Henry Fonda), a local banker. The annual Olympus Ball is coming up soon, where unmarried ladies are unofficially required to wear white as a sign of purity. However, when Pres is too busy to join Julie when she goes dress shopping, she decides to buy a red dress just to tick him off, even though she knows how scandalized the other guests will be. (I guess this was how people trolled each other before the internet.) This ends up backfiring on an epic scale; not only are the other guests outraged and scandalized, but Pres counters by forcing her to dance with him - after she's already regretted her actions and begs him to take her home. He even makes her dance a solo with him while nobody else is on the dance floor. After the ball, Julie and Pres exchange angry words, and the engagement is off as Pres heads north on a business trip.