Charlton Heston, portraying swaggering bigot land-baron Richard King Howland on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, does a spit take when his sister Sloan (Yvette Mimieux) announces that she plans to marry Paul Kahana, a 100% native Hawaiian (played by 100% native Philadelphian James Darren).
But Howland, in the meantime, is having a torrid affair with Mei Chen (France Nuyen). During Sloan and Paul's engagement party, Mei Chen's brother comes at Howland with a knife, but Paul intercedes and is killed. Sloan, bitter at Howland for Paul's death, runs off to Honolulu, where she is taken in by Paul's brother Dean (George Chakiris) and his family.
Meanwhile, Mei Chen gives birth to Howland's child but dies during childbirth. Howland, ever the rabid racist, refuses to accept the child and Sloan takes it upon herself to care for it.
After an angry fight with Sloan and Dean, Howland is confronted with a personal dilemma -- whether to continue on with his closed-minded ways or to welcome his newborn son into his family.