The film was banned in Chicago during its initial theatrical run for fear that it would lead to urban violence.
What is striking about the film is that it is so well balanced. Joseph Mankiewicz's production included angry black characters who mistrust and dislike whites in addition to the malevolent Biddle brothers. Poiter had to walk a fine line throughout the entire film as some of his own family members had hostile opinions too. The family matriarch wants Dr. Luther Brooks (Poiter) to quit the county hospital and go into to practice with a black physician. His brother (Ossie Davis) takes part in the riot.
It is a brilliant movie seventy years after it was released.