Anthony Mann's final foray into the western genre is a disturbing examination of man's baser instincts, rising in intensity to the level of Shakespearean tragedy. The film begins as seemingly naive Link (Gary Cooper) leaves his family to take a train to Fort Worth. Also on the train is saloon singer Billie Ellis (Julie London), who is compelled by con man Sam Beasley (Arthur O'Connell) to cheat Link out of his money. But the con comes to naught when the nefarious Dock Tobin (Lee J. Cobb) and his gang rob the train. Link takes Billie and Beasley to Tobin's cabin, where it is revealed the mild-mannered Link is Tobin's nephew and a former member of his cutthroat gang. Dock Tobin draws up a plan to rob a bank which the outlaws find agreeable, but they're reluctant to have Link rejoin their group. Soon it becomes apparent why they feel this way; when Link rejoins his old gang, his shy demeanor falls away and his outlaw instincts rise to the surface.