Mississippi Burning is a 1988 American biographical crime thriller film directed by Alan Parker that is loosely based on the 1964 Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner murder investigation in Mississippi. The film stars Gene Hackman and Willem Dafoe as two FBI agents assigned to investigate the disappearance of three civil rights workers in fictional Jessup County, Mississippi. The investigation is met with hostility by the town's residents, local police, and the Ku Klux Klan.
In 1964, three civil rights workers — two Jewish and one black — go missing while in Jessup County, Mississippi, organizing a voter registry for African Americans. The FBI sends two agents, Alan Ward and Rupert Anderson to investigate. Ward is a Northerner, senior in rank but younger than Anderson, and approaches the investigation by the book, whereas Anderson, a former Mississippi sheriff, is more nuanced in his approach. The pair find it difficult to conduct interviews with the local townspeople, as Sheriff Ray Stuckey and his deputies exert influence over the public, and are linked to a branch of the Ku Klux Klan. The wife of Deputy Sheriff Clinton Pell reveals to Anderson in a discreet conversation that the three missing men have been murdered. Their bodies are later found buried in an earthen dam. Stuckey deduces Mrs. Pell's confession to the FBI and informs Pell, who brutally beats his wife in retribution.