Unlike the notorious Mandingo (1975), this low-budget drama about slavery in the American South circa the 1830s represents a serious attempt at exploring intersections between personal and sociocultural dynamics. Alas, the good intentions are undercut by hideous acting—the performers in Quadroon seem like community-theater regulars giving cold readings. Accents come and go, dialogue is delivered stiffly, and emotional heat is restricted to scenes of outright passion and/or violence. Made properly, the same script could have resulted in something quasi-respectable. Instead, Quadroon is lifeless. Naïve Northerner Caleb (Tim Kincaid) arrives in New Orleans to stay with his Aunt Nancy (Marinda French) and her family. Caleb soon learns about quadroons, women born of white Creole fathers and black slave mistresses. These mixed-race ladies are raised to be elegant and polite—ideal mistresses for successive generations of Creole men. Predictably, Caleb meets and falls in love with a beautiful quadroon, Coral (Kathrine McKee), and he makes enemies with the most powerful Creole in town, Cesar Dupree (George Lupo). A battle for Coral’s body and soul ensues. The racial politics here are complicated and troubling, as during a scene in which the Creole villain commands slaves to gang-rape a woman who defies him. Nonetheless, Quadroon tells a sufficiently provocative story that for a few moments here and there it’s possible to look past the amateur-hour acting. As soon as reality inevitably reasserts itself, however, Quadroon loses its marginal appeal.