Versatile Swiss-German filmmaker William Wyler began making movies in the 1920s. During a career that spanned more than four decades, the revered auteur directed both silent films and talkies, pictures in black-and-white and in technicolor. He also went on to win three Academy Awards (Mrs. Miniver, The Best Years of Our Lives, Ben-Hur), as well as the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award in 1965. His last film, one that he helmed in 1970 at the age of sixty-eight, was based on Jesse Hill Ford’s 1965 novel The Liberation of Lord Byron Jones. The writer took inspiration from real-life events that took place in a town in the American South (where he himself lived) and ended up being severely criticized for it. But that did not stop him from adapting his controversial novel into a screenplay, together with screenwriter Stirling Silliphant.

The adaptation, entitled The Liberation of L.B. Jones, follows the titular character, a rich African-American funeral director (Roscoe Lee Browne), who decides to divorce his younger wife Emma (Lola Falana), after discovering that she has been cheating on him with white police officer Willie Joe Worth (Anthony Zerbe). What ensues is a harrowing unraveling of events, as we bear witness to a tragic tale, with the film holding nothing back in terms of its honest depiction of deeply-rooted racism.