Critic Dennis Schwartz believed the film trivialized the topic of bigotry. He wrote, "A Warner Brothers social conscience film that's good on spectacle but trivializes the serious subject of race hatred with an inadequate depiction of the KKK, as it pays more attention to the melodrama than to any message. Stuart Heisler ( The Glass Key / Dallas / Tulsa ) tries to weave a well-intentioned anti-Klan film by working into the plot various forms of violence and intimidation the KKK exerts on a small Southern town ... It has the look and spark of the usual Warner Bros. crime drama, but delivers the public safety message that Americans won't or shouldn't tolerate in their neck of the woods a thuggish organization like the KKK (sort of like their 'crime doesn't pay' messages they leave with their formulaic bloody gangster pics). Surprisingly the racial hate message of the Klan is never touched upon. These Ku Klux Klan members seem to be only interested in keeping outsiders away from their town, dressing up in their robed costumes to act tough while in disguise and using the Klan to hide their thieving criminal activities."