n New Orleans, Myrtle Kane and Jeb Stuart Thorington, arrive on The Rube Benedict Show where the eponymous host selects them and another couple as contestants. Despite not knowing each other, the couple wins the competition, and decides to earn $3,500 on one condition, to have their marriage ordained by a minister on set. Using the check to restore Waverley Plantation, the couple arrives there, about 100 miles upstream from New Orleans, where Jeb introduces his wife to the decaying plantation mansion his family has owned since 1840. Sometime later, Jeb introduces Myrtle to his multiracial half-brother, Chicken (Robert Hooks) – on his father’s side – who’d earned his nickname for hoarding chickens to the rooftop during childhood. Myrtle eventually shares her background in show business, as the last surviving member of an Alabama female quintet, named the Mobile Hot-Shots.
After Myrtle steps out, Jeb and Chicken engage in an argument, where Jeb states his ownership over the mansion, while Chicken states that when Jeb succumbs to terminal lung cancer, he will become the new owner as he is next of kin. Then, Jeb reveals to Myrtle, in a flashback, that he was discharged from the army, he engages in a “war” with Chicken, ordering his half-brother to leave the mansion, though Chicken would return to sign an agreement, making him next subsequent owner.
On her way to dinner, Myrtle grows an immediate dislike for her brother-in-law, though Jeb orders Myrtle to retrieve the agreement from Chicken’s wallet in his back pocket. However, she is unsuccessful in her attempts, until Jeb orders his wife to kill Chicken with a hammer, and never to return upstairs without the document. When Myrtle goes downstairs once more, she engages in a conversation until she ultimately reveals, she’d never married Jeb. Chicken refuses to believe it, and orders her to retrieve her marriage license. Myrtle returns upstairs, angering Jeb for not retrieving the agreement, before returning downstairs to present Chicken the marriage license.
After showing the marriage license, Myrtle engages in an extramarital affair, with Chicken. Meanwhile, Jeb, who experiences several flashbacks of his mother, and multiple threesome affairs with several prostitutes, becomes angered that his wife has not returned with the document, and marches downstairs armed with a pistol, where he ultimately burns the agreement. After burning the agreement, Chicken reveals that he is actually the plantation’s heir, through his mother rather than the “mistake” produced from an interracial extramarital affair committed by Jeb’s father, who later died in World War II. Learning of the revelation, Jeb collapses to the floor, and dies.
Finally, the levee breaks, forcing Chicken and Myrtle to ascend to the rooftop, to escape the surrounding floodwaters, for refuge and sexual fulfillment.