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While staying at Isabelle Steers' roominghouse in Reno, newly-divorced showgirl Roslyn Taber meets Gay Langland, a ruggedly independent, aging cowboy. Immediately attracted to each other, they move into a partly completed ranchhouse belonging to Gay's friend Guido, a part-time mechanic who has turned into an aimless wanderer since the death of his wife in childbirth. The brief idyll ends when Guido devises a plan for rounding up some mustangs, wild horses often termed "misfits" because they are too small for riding. Gay and Guido need a third partner and take on Perce Howland, a battered and disillusioned rodeo performer. When Roslyn learns that the mustangs are to be sold to a dogfood manufacturer, she is revolted by this brutal destruction of life and begs Gay to call off the hunt. But he refuses, and the three men, accompanied by the reluctant Roslyn, ride up to the salt flats in the Nevada foothills. Six horses are driven out onto the flats by Guido's flivver plane and then chased and roped from a speeding truck. Sickened by the pathetic plight of the creatures, Roslyn appeals to the sensitive Perce, who sets the animals free. Enraged by this defiance of his authority, Gay recaptures the lead stallion and succeeds in subduing it. Then, having asserted his will, he sets the animal free. More understanding and respectful of each other, Gay and Roslyn return home, while Perce and Guido go their separate ways.