Ruby Gentry ★★★★½

Jennifer Jones plays a girl from the wrong side of the Carolina swamp who lusts after Charlton Heston's impossibly named Boake Tackman, scion of small town nobility fallen on hard times. He returns the lust, but his class pride keeps them apart, so Karl Malden's upstart richest man in town, the guy everyone owes money to, marries her, giving Ruby the chance to foreclose on everyone who ever wronged her, sending the town and all its old-power families into ruin. At once an indictment of class prejudice (it keeps the pretty young lovers apart, makes the heroine sad) and justification for it (when Ruby does attain power she uses it only for destructive purposes, if only that girl knew her place). The movie it most reminded me of was Birth of a Nation, with class an easy substitute for race and a more self-contradictory approach thanks to director King Vidor's career-long stance in favor of the individual against the system.