Set in a California subdivision, the story follows four couples who have bought homes and are neighbors. Among the problems facing the couples are alcoholism, racism, and promiscuity.
The story revolves around the idea of “no down payment” and the over extended nature of some of the families’ economic situation. Tony Randall is in a role that you would never expect, a car salesman looking for a good time. Other issues include discrimination against a former war hero for lack of education.
Life is rough in the coal mines of 1876 Pennsylvania. A secret group of Irish emigrant miners, known as the Molly Maguires, fights against the cruelty of the mining company with sabotage and murder. A detective, also an Irish emigrant, is hired to infiltrate the group and report on its members. But on which side do his sympathies lie?
A young, white teacher is assigned to an isolated island off the coast of South Carolina populated mostly by poor black families. He finds that the basically illiterate, neglected children there know so little of the world outside their island.
Ram Bowen and Eddie Cook are two expatriate jazz musicians living in Paris where, unlike America at the time, Jazz musicians are celebrated and racism is a non-issue. When they meet and fall in love with two young American girls, Lillian and Connie, who are vacationing in France, Ram and Eddie must decide whether they should move back to America with them, or stay in Paris for the freedom it allows them. Ram, who wants to be a serious composer, finds Paris more exciting than America and is reluctant to give up his music for a relationship, and Eddie wants to stay for the city’s more tolerant racial atmosphere.
Norma Rae is a southern textile worker employed in a factory with intolerable working conditions. This concern about the situation gives her the gumption to be the key associate to a visiting labor union organizer. Together, they undertake the difficult, and possibly dangerous, struggle to unionize her factory.
Ben Quick arrives in Frenchman’s Bend, MS after being kicked out of another town for allegedly burning a barn for revenge. Will Varner owns just about everything in Frenchman’s Bend and he hires Ben to work in his store. Will thinks his own son, Jody, who manages the store, lacks ambition and despairs of him getting his wife, Eula, pregnant. Will thinks his daughter, Clara, a schoolteacher, will never get married. He decides that Ben Quick might make a good husband for Clara to bring some new blood into the family