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On his journey home to West Texas, Tom Buchanan, who has been working as a mercenary in Mexico to raise money to buy a cattle ranch, stops at the border town of Agry, Texas. Agry is owned lock, stock and barrel by the Agry brothers, and consequently, as soon as the affable Buchanan enters the town limits, he is gruffly questioned by Lew Agry, Agry's corrupt sheriff. At the hotel, Buchanan meets Lew's brother Amos, the bumbling, slow-witted proprietor of the establishment, who soon discovers that Buchanan is carrying a large cache of gold coins. When Buchanan ventures over to the saloon for a meal, he is confronted by Roy Agry, the belligerent, reckless son of Simon, the family patriarch and town judge. Buchanan is amused by Roy's drunken antics, which are brought to an abrupt end when Juan de la Vega, the son of wealthy Mexican rancher Don Pedro de la Vega, bursts into the saloon and shoots Roy. When Lew and his deputies pounce on Juan, Buchanan intervenes on his behalf and as a result, Lew also arrests him. Upon learning about Buchanan's gold from Amos, the greedy Lew, plotting to pocket the bankroll, declares that Buchanan will be hanged along with Juan. As they await their execution, Juan tells Buchanan that he killed Roy in retribution for molesting his younger sister. Disturbed that Lew has taken the law into his own hands, Abe Carbo, the only other voice of authority in town, rides to Simon's ranch to warn him that a lynching would ruin his chances of becoming senator. As the nooses are being slipped around Juan and Buchanan's necks, Simon gallops into town in his carriage and proclaims that justice demands they be given a trial the following morning. The next day, Simon presides over the courtroom as Lew tries to paint Buchanan as an accessory to murder. After the jury finds Buchanan not guilty, Juan stands up and publicly confesses to killing Roy and is then sentenced by Simon to hang before sunset. After Amos and Lew divide Buchanan's bankroll, Lew instructs his deputies, Pecos Hill and Lafe, to escort the now penniless Buchanan out of town. Soon after, Esteban Gomez, Don Pedro's emissary, comes to Simon's ranch and offers to buy Juan's freedom. Amos eavesdrops on the conversation as Simon demands $50,000 for Juan's return. When Gomez agrees to his terms, Simon sends Carbo to notify Lew that he has decided to postpone the hanging. Meanwhile, on a trail on the outskirts of town, Lafe orders Buchanan to dismount. As Lafe is about to shoot Buchanan in the back, Pecos, a fellow West Texan loathe to kill one of his own kind, defies Lew's orders and shoots Lafe instead. After Lew receives Simon's directive to postpone the hanging, Amos agrees to reveal the reason for Simon's altruism in exchange for $10,000, then divulges the terms of Simon's deal with Gomez. Determined to double-cross Simon and claim the money himself, Lew tells his deputies, Waldo Peck and Hamp, to spirit Juan out of town and keep him at an abandoned shack until he is ransomed. Unknown to Lew, Pecos and Buchanan have stopped at the shack to rest, and when Juan and his deputies arrive, Buchanan overwhelms them. After tying up the deputies, Pecos leads Juan to the border while Buchanan rides back to Agry to reclaim his money. Soon after they leave, Lew's thugs free themselves and follow Juan and Pecos. After killing Pecos, they recapture Juan and head for town. Later that day, Gomez returns to Simon's ranch with a saddlebag filled with $50,000 and demands custody of Juan. After Simon sends Carbo to town to fetch Juan, Carbo discovers Juan's empty cell, and Lew then states that Gomez must now negotiate with him. Soon after Carbo departs, the now-armed Buchanan walks into the sheriff's office and demands the return of his money. After handing over Buchanan's gold, Lew goes to the saloon to placate the bloodthirsty citizens who are impatiently awaiting Juan's execution. Once Lew leaves the office, Waldo and Hamp return and lock Buchanan in a cell with Juan. After Carbo returns to the ranch and relays Lew's message, Simon angrily asks Amos what Lew has done with Juan. When Amos, who has witnessed Juan's return, reveals that Juan is back in jail, Simon hurries back to town, where he finds Gomez at the saloon negotiating with Lew. Still believing that Juan is being held prisoner at the shack, Lew scoffs at Simon's claim that he can produce Juan. After Simon sends Carbo and Gomez to the jail to get Juan, Waldo and Hamp burst into the saloon and inform Lew that Juan is indeed at the jail. Taking Simon hostage, Lew heads for the jail just as Carbo frees Buchanan and Juan. When Simon and Lew arrive, Buchanan grabs Simon and Gomez's saddlebag and forces Simon into his wagon. As Juan speeds the wagon across a rickety bridge, the wagon tips over, spilling out Simon and Buchanan and flinging the saddlebag into the street. After abruptly stopping the wagon, Juan jumps down to help Buchanan. In a standoff, Lew seizes Gomez, after which Buchanan promises to release Simon in exchange for Gomez. After releasing Simon, Buchanan orders him to retrieve the saddlebag. When the panicked Simon bypasses the saddlebag and starts running toward town, Lew shoots him. At gunpoint, Lew then tells Waldo to walk into the street and pick up the saddlebag. As Waldo hesitantly inches his way into the street, he is caught in the crossfire as both Buchanan and Lew demand that he return the money to them. With Buchanan's pistol now empty, Lew is about to shoot him when the mortally wounded Simon clutches his gun from the dirt and kills his brother. Buchanan then returns the saddlebag to Juan and Gomez and in gratitude, Juan presents Buchanan with his prize horse. As Carbo prepares to take over control of the town, Buchanan rides off to West Texas.