powered by AFI
In 1890, in the Grass Valley, Arizona saloon, ranch hand Chito Rafferty happily informs alcoholic lawyer Jim Gardner that their old friend, Marvin Hayden, is returning to his family's ranch after a long absence. Saloon operators Johnny Blue and Trimble Carson, who desperately want to buy the Hayden ranch, panic at the news and, aware that the Hayden family has been involved in a bloody feud with the neighboring Jorth family, tell brothers Chick and Lee Jorth about Marvin's return. Their old hatreds rekindled, Lee and Chick rush off to intercept Marvin's stagecoach, but are outridden by Chito, who stops the coach in time to prevent Marvin's death. Marvin, meanwhile, has been enjoying a flirtation with his attractive fellow passenger and is dismayed to learn that she is Lee and Chick's sister Ellen. The equally upset Ellen reminds Marvin that, years before, his father killed her father. After Marvin accuses the Jorths of murdering his father, Ellen threatens to kill Marvin unless he leaves Grass Valley immediately. Marvin, however, plans to stay, especially after he is told that the Hayden ranch is to be auctioned in a week unless $6,000 in back taxes are paid to Sheriff Bagley. While Chito discusses the situation with a now-sober Jim, who is the Hayden family lawyer, the crooked sheriff apprises Carson and Johnny that Marvin intends to save his ranch. Carson and Johnny want to buy the ranch so that they can sell it to an irrigation company, whose plans to build a dam in the area they have kept a secret. To prevent Marvin from interfering in their scheme, Johnny tells Lee and Chick that, despite Ellen's warnings, Marvin is still in the area. Chito, meanwhile, has retrieved Jim from the saloon and has also offered a housekeeping job to saloon girl Ginger Kelly, who was fired by Johnny after she helped Chito rescue Marvin. At the Hayden ranch, Jim informs Marvin that his father had $4,000 in a Phoenix bank account and hands him a pair of Marvin's father's guns. Marvin rejects the weapons, and when Lee and Chick ride up looking for a confrontation, he tells the brothers he never carries a gun. Marvin fights hand-to-hand with Chick, then is warned by Ellen not to trespass on Jorth land. Later, while Jim picks up the $4,000 that has been sent from Phoenix, Marvin drives some lost Jorth cattle back to their range and is met by a gun-wielding Ellen. Marvin fools Ellen into believing that she has accidentally killed him with a warning shot, then playfully spanks her. Their hostilities momentarily abated, Ellen and Marvin ride to the dusty canyon that was the source of their parents' feud. Anxious to prove that her father, who wanted to build a dam in the canyon, truly owned the land he claimed was his, Ellen searches for the survey marker that indicates the boundaries between Jorth and Hayden land. Just as she and Marvin stumble on a marker inserted by the irrigation company, they are shot at by Carson and Johnny, who are hiding above the canyon. Although neither is hurt, Marvin assumes Ellen's brothers attacked him and accuses Ellen of setting him up. After Ellen denies Marvin's charges, Chick finds his rival and convinces him of his innocence. Chick then comes upon Johnny and Carson and accuses them of the shooting. While Johnny and Chick fight, Carson kills Chick with a large rock, confident that the gunless Marvin will be accused of the crime. Marvin's joy at receiving Jim's money, which includes a $2,000 bank loan, is curtailed when Bagley arrives to arrest him. Unsure of Marvin's guilt, Ellen agrees to help Jim, Ginger and Chito find the real killer and takes them to the canyon, where they make a close inspection of the irrigation marker. Jim deduces the significance of the marker and instructs Chito, Ellen and Ginger to look for a spent shell from the earlier attack. and they find a .45 caliber bullet. Within earshot of Bagley, Jim then tells the jailed Marvin that he has found some helpful evidence and presents the sheriff with the ranch money. Bagley stalls Jim, however, and rushes over to the saloon, where Chito overhears him, Johnny and Carson plotting Jim's demise. Before they can execute their plan, Ginger tricks Johnny into allowing her to demonstrate her phony Annie Oakley-style shooting act and grabs Carson's .45 caliber gun. Ginger manages to flee with the gun, but she and Jim are pursued by Carson and Johnny, who then kill Jim and retrieve the gun. After Chito breaks Marvin out of the jail, the two men join forces with Lee and confront Bagley, Carson and Johnny in the now-deserted saloon. During the ensuing gunfight, Bagley and Johnny are killed by Chito and Lee, while Marvin finally outdraws Carson. His name cleared, Marvin then reunites with Ellen.