Checkmate gets an assignment from no less than the state authorities themselves who want their intervention in a murder case in a small agricultural community. A migrant worker played by Perry Lopez is on trial for murdering the son of the richest fruit grower around Philip Ober. The worry is about civil unrest among the Hispanic migrant labor population. Witnesses coming forth to the crime are the late man's widow Diana Lynn who is successfully invading Gloria Grahame's tramp portrayals and the housekeeper Katharine Warren.
Anthony George and Doug McClure successfully prove to themselves that Lopez did not do it or at least there's a lot of reasonable doubt. But Lopez will not lift a finger in his own defense. And there's a real slimeball of a prosecutor in Henry Jones who sees big campaign contributions coming his way from Ober if he nails Lopez and he goes to the gas chamber.
The story here lies in the motivations of the people involved. Some I've mentioned that are clear and obvious. It's getting to the others where the viewer will try to figure the psychology involved.
Lynn who was always playing all American good girls in the past does a real 180 degree turn here.
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