Written and directed by Thomas Rickman, this 1984 independent film starred Tommy Lee Jones and Martha Plimpton in her first major role. It was filmed along the banks of both the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers in Kentucky, and underwritten by Robert Redford's Sundance Institute. Jones is released from prison by a parole board 13 years after a fatal robbery. He meets his daughter for the first time. They carefully rebuild an old boat named "The River Rat." For better or for worse, their relationship slowly develops. Although Jones wants to live a straight life, he has difficulty eluding a dishonest prison psychiatrist played by Brian Dennehy. He's being blackmailed by Dennehy because Dennehy believes Jones knows where the stolen money was hidden before he went to prison. Dennehy was instrumental in Jones getting paroled. In return for his cooperation getting Jones paroled, Dennehy wants a percentage of the stolen money.
When rebuilding of the boat is completed, Jones, Plimpton, and Dennehy ride "The River Rat" down the scenic Mississippi to Memphis. This is where the treasure hunt begins and the plot develops further in the family drama and adventure.