Marshal Silver is run out of town under suspicion of being a trigger-happy killer after shooting a hired gun of Honest John Barrett. A placid life in a new town is interrupted by the reappearance of Barrett, old enemies and the son of the hired gun from years ago, Anderson.
In a Kansas cattle town seasoned law enforcer Marshal Cass Silver (Robert Ryan) prepares himself and the town for a cattle drive that has hit with many men looking for drink and companionship. Cass has decided to finally settle down by asking Sally (Virginia Mayo) to marry, but first he has to make sure the town is safe from undesirable elements like the new gambling casino run by old nemesis Honest John Barrett (Robert Middleton) and his hired guns. During a scuffle Cass shoots it out with a gunslinger and is wounded in the head, but is saved by Thad Anderson (Jeffrey Hunter) who has come to town as a cattle herder but holds a grudge against Cass because Cass shot his father. During the gun fight Thad is injured and Cass takes the opportunity to tell him the truth about his father and help him secure employment as his deputy, a job Thad approaches with trepidation. During this time Honest John hires more gunslingers to assassinate Cass who is suffering momentary blindness due to the wound to his head in the gunfight at the saloon. When killers break out of jail and lure Cass to a secluded location Thad gets involved but will he choose the right side?