8 user 3 critic

Desire in the Dust (1960)

Passed | | Crime, Drama, Mystery | 5 February 1961 (UK)
Lonnie Wilson, the son of a toothless sharecropper, Zuba Wilson, returns to small southern hometown after spending six years on the chain-gang for killing Colonel Ben Marquand's son in an ... See full summary »


William F. Claxton


Harry Whittington (novel), Charles Lang (screenplay)
Won 1 Golden Globe. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Raymond Burr ... Col. Ben Marquand
Martha Hyer ... Melinda Marquand
Joan Bennett ... Mrs. Marquand
Ken Scott ... Lonnie Wilson
Brett Halsey ... Dr. Ned Thomas
Edward Binns ... Luke Connett
Margaret Field ... Maude Wilson (as Maggie Mahoney)
Douglas Fowley ... Zuba Wilson
Kelly Thordsen ... Sheriff Wheaton
Rex Ingram ... Burt Crane
Jack Ging ... Peter Marquand
Anne Helm ... Cass Wilson
Irene Ryan ... Nora Finney
Paul Baxley Paul Baxley ... Thurman Case
Robert Earle Robert Earle ... Virgil


Lonnie Wilson, the son of a toothless sharecropper, Zuba Wilson, returns to small southern hometown after spending six years on the chain-gang for killing Colonel Ben Marquand's son in an automobile accident. He revives his love affair with Melinda Marquand, who is now Mrs. Melinda Thomas, since she married Dr. Ned Thomas, while Lonnie was serving time, in her place, for the accident she caused. Somewhat miffed about all this, Lonnie incites Dr. Ned about his wife's infidelity, which Dr. Ned verifies when he catches Lonnie and Melinda in a semi-torrid embrace in Colonel Marquand's hunting lodge. Melinda, looking for an explanation for this situation, shoots and wounds Lonnie to defend her innocence by claiming she was being raped. Colonel Marquand,who had bribed Lonnie to take the blame for his daughter, uses her story to try and have Sheriff Wheaton kill Lonnie, and put an end to all this mess. But there is another reel or two before this mess ends. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Kin by kin or sin by sin...their hidden desires rocked a town! See more »


Passed | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


There was a 7-year age difference between Joan Bennett and Raymond Burr, playing husband and wife, and also between Burr and Martha Hyer, playing father and daughter. See more »


The heckler in the bar jerks his head back and to the side before Lonnie's punch reaches him. See more »


Cass Wilson: I don't like to kiss men with whiskey on their breath.
Zuba Wilson: Well you better get used to it honey or it's going to cut down on your list of spooning partners considerable.
See more »

User Reviews

The ordinary upper class self destructive family trauma
17 March 2019 | by clanciaiSee all my reviews

This could have been written by Eugene O'Neill or Tennessee Williams, it's a southern family drama filmed entirely on location in Lousiana, and all the ordinary ingredients are there: a tyrannical autocratic father, a harassed younger son, a lewd daughter and a mad mother, an old faithful coloured servant (Rex Ingram), a corrupt police officer, and the rural innocent family, the son getting out of jail after six years for having taken the blame for the accidental death of the lewd blonde daughter's little brother, which drove the mother (Joan Bennett) mad, with the promise that he would have her when he got out, and when he does he finds her married to another.

That's the set-up. A major part is played by the music, which is very sensually jazzy all the way, stressing the decadent sexual strain of the film, but all the actors are good, Raymond Burr as the father finds himself back home in the role of an overbearing villain, taking a pause from Perry Mason, Martha Hyer as Melinda is seductive and wicked enough, her father's true daughter, you can feel the sorely tried Ken Scott 's patience gradually bursting all through the film, but in spite of the shoot-out the finale is relatively mild. Fortunately there is a journalist and doctor at hand to get things straight.

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Release Date:

5 February 1961 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Begierde im Staub See more »

Filming Locations:

Clinton, Louisiana, USA See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

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