This movie is one I'd put up beside The Last Picture Show, A Small Town In Texas and a number of other portrayals of small town life in the US circa 1950s. The difference lies with the Remick/McQueen combo, the harmony, the tension and the incredible intensity of Steve McQueen at his absolute best.
The McQueen character here is a small-town young man from a lousy homelife, grown up, gone to prison for a brief time, poor and trying to make something of his life with his young wife, Lee Remick and their pre-school daughter, Margaret Rose. McQueen's past plays heavily against him; his hangups, pride, independence and general hard-headedness lead him into troubles with the entire town and the law enforcement community while the endearing Remick and Margaret Rose watch in tender helpless desolation.
This movie belongs on the best-seller list with all the other oldies. It's a better one than most.