The year is 1929, just before the Depression. Vermilion, Illinois is a prosperous small town where World War I veteran Boyd Calvin lives. Still haunted by his experiences in the war, Boyd struggles to find a place for himself. He drives a trolley and lives hand-to-mouth in a flophouse. But when Boyd stumbles upon the scene of his wife's brutal killing, he loses his nerve and runs, only to be captured and jailed for murder In prison, he meets and befriends George, a black convict accused of raping a white woman. Narrowly escaping a crowd's attempt to lynch them, the men flee for their lives, hiding together before making their way to the anonymity of Chicago and day labor paid in cash. But Boyd soon discovers the fugitive's underworld is not for him and decides to return to Vermilion and surrender to his fate.
What he doesn't expect to find is a small group of supporters who believe in his innocence and convince Boyd to fight for the justice that has eluded him. As the country stumbles toward collapse, a dramatic trial unfolds as a man's fate hangs in the balance