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In 1888, following the bloody gun battle at the O. K. Corral in Tombstone, cattle rustler Ike Clanton, the man responsible, contrives the arrest of the Earp brothers (Wyatt, Virgil, and Morgan) and their whisky-soaked, tubercular friend, Doc Holliday. The murder charge is dismissed, however, and young Virgil consents to run for city marshal; but Clanton's henchmen trap and badly wound him. Morgan is killed when he volunteers to take his crippled brother's place on the ballot. As Wyatt, accompanied by Doc, is escorting Virgil and their dead brother back to the Earp homestead in California, he receives a telegram informing him that he has been appointed Federal marshal. Doc assists in forming an authorized posse, and they set out after Clanton. On the trip, Wyatt picks off Clanton's men one by one with such coldblooded indifference that even Doc is shocked by his friend's disregard for human life. Suffering a hemorrhage, Doc is forced to admit himself to a sanitorium, but Wyatt continues on to Mexico, where Clanton is now engaged in a new cattle-rustling enterprise. Eventually Wyatt traps his prey in a small village and kills him. Having evened the score, he returns for a farewell visit with Doc. As Wyatt leaves the deathbed, he removes his gun and cartridge belt, stows them in his saddle bag, and vows never to be a lawman again.