The film is based on the novel by John Ehle. Wayland Jackson, a widower with a young daughter, moves to a small, impoverished mountain village in North Carolina, circa 1934. They are taken in by Collie Wright, a single mother, and she and Wayland soon fall in love.
Into a small, poor Appalachian Mountains community in the Great Depression era arrive a young widower, Wayland Jackson, a clockmaker, and his 12-year-old daughter.
Wayland becomes respectfully acquainted with Collie Wright, a single mother of a newborn child, Jonathan. As he becomes more familiar to the villagers, Wayland tries to persuade them that he could build a beautiful clock for the public square. His proposal is met with considerable skepticism before he is given the town's consent.
He is attracted to Collie, but his life and hers are threatened by family members from the Wright family's rival clan, the Campbells, led by patriarch Drury. The youngest son, Cole, is the father of Collie's baby. Cole wanted to run away with Collie but ultimately left her out of fear of Drury's wrath. One night, Cole Campbell arrives in Collie's cabin, and goes into a violent rage once he learns of Collie and Wayland's relationship. Wayland and Cole get into a fistfight in the frozen pond near the cabin. Cole is found dead the next morning, whereupon his relatives demand that Collie now owes them a life and therefore must give them the child. Not wanting the Campbells to kill Wayland instead, Collie accepts.
Wayland and Collie are soon engaged. Wayland confronts the Campbells and attempts to persuade Drury and his clan to end their feud with the Wrights, but they chase him away. The following spring, Drury appears at the wedding of Wayland and Collie, and returns Jonathan to his mother.
- Kurt Russell as Wayland Jackson
- Kelly McGillis as Collie Wright
- Lloyd Bridges as William Wright
- Mitchell Ryan as Drury Campbell
- Jeffrey Meek as Cole Campbell
Winter People has an overall approval rating of 13% on Rotten Tomatoes.