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By the mid-1880's, the Apache Indians of Eastern Arizona have been relegated to living in squalor either on reservations or by themselves in the desert hills. Among the latter group is John Russell, whom they call Hombre. As a child, he was separated from his white parents, carried off by Apaches, and raised as an Indian. Upon learning that he has inherited a boardinghouse, Russell decides to trade the property for a herd of horses. Once the transaction has been settled, he leaves town on the first stagecoach. Also aboard are his friend Henry Mendez, the driver; Jessie Brown, former manager of the boardinghouse; Indian agent Alexander Favor and his young wife, Audra; a bickering young married couple, Billy Lee and Doris Blake; and Cicero Grimes, an arrogant stranger. As soon as the coach is underway, Russell is forced to sit on top because of Favor's bigoted attitude. A short time later, the coach is stopped by four gunmen, all in the employ of Grimes, who have come to rob Favor of $12,000 he has embezzled from government funds intended for Indian beef contracts. As Grimes and his henchmen make off with the money, taking Audra along as a hostage, Russell grabs a rifle and kills two of the bandits, one of whom was carrying the sack of money. After retrieving the cash, Russell leads the group to refuge in an abandoned mine cabin. The next day the outlaws appear and offer to trade Audra for the money. Russell refuses and defends his decision by reminding the others that Audra stood by as her husband let the Indians starve on dog meat while he pocketed their beef money. But when Jessie attempts to take the money to Grimes, Russell goes in her place. Gunfighting breaks out, and, although all of the bandits are killed, Russell dies saving the lives of his companions.