powered by AFI
Marshal Kirk Reed is assigned to transport five female prisoners, all murderesses, across the Texas plains to a new penitentiary at Fort Clark. Kirk is assisted by two deputies, Big Foot and Tom Ames. The five women are The Missouri Lady, convicted of shooting a lawman; Big Pearl Jackson, a multiple killer and stagecoach robber; Faro Kitty Brewster, who killed her lover when she discovered he had another woman; Crazy Hannah Gates, who strangled her own daughter when she thought a band of Indians was planning to rape the child; and María "The Knife" García, who stabbed her employer when he tried to attack her. Shortly after they begin their journey, Ames and María share a mutual attraction and Kirk is drawn to The Missouri Lady, whose real name is Ellen Downs. As the caravan progresses, it is joined by Ellen's husband, Jim Downs, an escaped killer known as The Missouri Kid who is posing as a prospector. The Kid intends to free Ellen, even though she makes clear that she is no longer in love with him. When The Kid and Ellen ride off, Kirk goes after them, wounding The Kid, who then falls over a precipice. Assuming that The Kid is dead, Kirk returns Ellen to the caravan. The Kid is still alive, however, and after receiving help from a female rancher, heads back to the caravan. When The Kid attempts to shoot the lawman, Kirk outwits him and takes him prisoner. The Kid then convinces his fellow prisoners to steal guns and overpower their captors. Their plan succeeds, and after tying up Kirk, Big Foot and Tom, they head for the Mexican border. María, having chosen not to accompany the others, frees the men who then pursue the escapees. When The Kid and the women are ambushed by Comanche Indians, Hannah, devastated by the memory of her previous encounter, attacks the Comanches and is captured and killed. The others are saved by a cavalry troop whose leader believes The Kid's story that he and his three female companions are innocent travelers. Shortly after the troop rides off, Kirk and his companions arrive. The Kid draws his gun first and is about to shoot Kirk when Ellen, sick of all the killing, fires at her husband. As the fatally wounded Kid falls, his finger tightens on the trigger of his gun, which then fires and kills Ellen. After Kirk recaptures Big Pearl and Faro Kitty, the caravan resumes its journey to the penitentiary and Kirk tells María that she may be pardoned as he will testify on her behalf in return for the help she gave him.