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In 1880, while fleeing from the Mexican police, two bank robbers, Rio and Longworth, have one of their horses shot out from under them. Rio agrees to remain behind while his friend rides off to get a new mount from a nearby ranch, but, motivated by self-preservation and greed, Longworth abandons Rio and rides off alone with the gold. After spending 5 years in the Sonora prison, Rio escapes with a cellmate, Modesto, and makes his way to the California border. There he learns that Longworth has become the sheriff of Monterey and has married a Mexican woman who has a grown daughter. Consumed by his passion for revenge, Rio joins forces with two outlaws, Amory and Harvey, who are planning to rob the Monterey bank. By feigning friendship and denying that he was ever caught, Rio wins the trust of the guilt-ridden Longworth. As part of his plan Rio seduces his arch-enemy's virginal stepdaughter, Louisa, and then brutally tells her the truth about himself. A short time later, Rio kills a drunken bully in self-defense, and Longworth uses the incident as an excuse for publicly whipping Rio, smashing his shooting hand, and driving him out of town. For several weeks Rio practices firing with his hand in a sling and once more returns to Monterey, but his growing love for Louisa, who is pregnant, has become stronger than his hatred of Longworth, and he decides to call off his vendetta. However, Amory and Harvey rob the Monterey bank; Longworth blames Rio, has him imprisoned, and arranges for a hanging. With the aid of a gun smuggled to him by Louisa, he overpowers the sadistic deputy sheriff, Lon, and escapes from jail. Just as he reaches the street, Longworth arrives. In the final meeting between the two enemies, it is Longworth who is killed. Rio says goodbye to Louisa, promises to return, and rides away.