powered by AFI
Old-timer Doc Allen Vinson tells a story about recent events in his town of Tumult, Wyoming: Just before the turn of the century, Harley Masters, a railroad employee, heads for Tumult with a map of a proposed railroad extension and is shot in the shoulder by a gunman. Unable to find the map on Harley, the gunman rides off as passing stranger Ed Garry rides up. Ed takes Harley into Tumult, where Doc, who also functions as undertaker, veterinarian, music teacher, real estate salesman, notary public and surveyor, is accompanying the singing Janet Masters, Harley's niece, on the piano. Before going to see the doctor, Ed takes Harley into a saloon for a drink, and Harley gives Ed the map, which he had concealed in his hat. Harley then is shot and killed by the gunman, who has been following them, and Ed is knocked out. The gunman searches Harley but again fails to find the map. When Ed recovers, he finds himself face-to-face with Joel Benton, who owns the town. Although Ed finds an impression of an unusual rifle butt outside the window through which the shot was fired, the sheriff, Janet and her cousin, Bill Masters, suspect Ed of killing Harley. Over a drink, Ed tells Benton that he has come to Tumult to see wanted outlaws Colt Redwood and Jed Northey, whom he has never met, on a business matter. Later, when Ed checks into the Wagon Wheel Hotel, he finds Janet waiting in his room. At gunpoint, she demands the message she assumes her uncle gave to Ed for her, but he refuses to hand it over. After Ed knocks the gun out of her hand, Bill rushes in, but soon Bill and Janet leave with nothing resolved. Ed then looks at the paper Harley gave him. The next morning, Ed meets hotel manager Claire Benton, Joel's sister. Later, after Benton asks Ed if Harley gave him anything before he was shot, he introduces him to tough guy Eli Cresset. Ed thinks he has seen Cresset before and that he is Redwood. A fight breaks out between them and Ed knocks Cresset out. Joel then offers Ed a job as acting sheriff, but Ed reveals that he is a federal deputy marshal and arrests and jails Cresset. After Doc gives Ed the bullet he removed from Harley's body, Ed visits Sheriff Jeff Lance, who is recovering from a bullet wound. Lance tells him that he suspects that Benton is really Jed Northey. Meanwhile, someone breaks Cresset out of jail and he escapes on horseback, but, as Ed is leaving Lance's house, he spots Cresset riding by and captures him. Ed leaves Cresset in Lance's custody and rides back to Tumult, where he and Doc review the map Harley gave him. Doc points out that a new railroad spur is going to be constructed and anyone knowing its proposed route could buy up the land and make a large profit by selling the right of way. The map indicates that the line is to cut through Janet's property. Ed rides out to talk with rancher Leo Hanald, who claims that Janet's father ran his cattle off onto inferior grazing land, but denies killing him. Ed next visits Janet's ranch, where he encounters Claire, who flirts with him then surreptitiously steals the map. When Janet shows up, she chases both of them off her property. Later, Ed finds Kyle Freeling rustling Janet's cattle, but before Freeling can reveal who ordered him to do so, he is shot by a hidden gunman. Ed takes Janet into protective custody and, after he saves her from some falling rocks, they kiss. Ed learns that cousin Bill will inherit the ranch if anything happens to her. When they reach Lance's house, Doc tells them that Lance has been killed and Cresset has escaped. Out on the range, Jeff finds the rifle with the unusual butt and telegraphs its serial number to the Winchester Company to determine its owner. Meanwhile, Cresset meets with Bill Masters, who is behind all the troubles and agrees to kill Benton, thereby eliminating a partner. When Ed receives the answer to his cable, he rides to the Benton ranch. As he attempts to pry open a roll-top desk to look for the map, he is surprised by Claire and demands the map's return, but she runs off. Benton rides up and Ed hides in a closet. Shortly thereafter, Cresset comes in and tells Benton about his deal with Masters and asks him if he wants to make him a better offer. However, when Masters arrives, intending to kill them both and identifying Benton as Northey, Ed bursts in with gun blazing, shoots Masters and disarms Cresset and Benton. Claire, tired of the killing and intrigue, returns, picks up Masters' gun and tells Cresset and Benton to take some money from the safe and leave. She then gives the map to Ed. After Cresset grabs a gun and shoots Claire in the shoulder, Ed shoots him. At gunpoint, Ed orders Benton to pick up Claire and get her help. Later, Doc, now also a justice of the peace, marries Ed and Janet.