Gregory Hines (White Nights, A Rage in Harlem) leaves his home in contemporary New York City to journey into the Deep South to find out the truth about his father’s death many years earlier. He discovers that his father was lynched after being accused of raping a white woman, and he falls in love with that woman’s daughter, played by Annette O’Toole (The Kennedys of Massachusetts). As a drama, White Lie uses conventions that are at least 20 years old — ever since Sidney Poitier in 1967’s In the Heat of the Night, well-educated urban black men have been going down to the rural South to demonstrate how stupid white racists are.
What White Lie lacks in novelty, however, it almost makes up for in heat: It is still unusual to see an interracial romance conducted on television, and the relationship between Hines and O’Toole is believably intense. White Lie is based on a novel by the first-rate blues-music historian Samuel Charters; it’s a trite story, but one whose romance is convincing and whose lessons in race relations are still all too accurate. C+