powered by AFI
As James Vanning furtively roams the street of Los Angeles, a man stops him and asks for a light. Afterward, Jim wanders into a bar and meets Marie Gardner when she asks him to lend her five dollars because she misplaced her wallet. After she shows him her driver's license and promises to send the money to him the next morning, he hands her a five dollar bill and invites her to dinner. Meanwhile, the man in the street, an insurance investigator named Ben Fraser who has been trailing Jim for three months in hopes of retrieving $350,000 Jim allegedly stole from a bank, returns home and confides to his wife Laura that he thinks Jim may be innocent. Over dinner, Marie mentions that she works as a model, and Jim replies that he is freelance artist and asks her to pose for him. Marie then gives Jim her address and phone number and arranges to meet him at Robinson's, the store where she is modeling the next day. As Marie and Jim talk in the street outside the restaurant, two malevolent men approach Jim and force him into their car. The men, John and Red, the real bank robbers, order Jim to tell them where he hid the money. When Jim refuses, they drive him to a deserted oil field and threaten to maim him with one of the oil drills. With his life at risk, Jim reflects back to his unfortunate first meeting with the robbers: While on a camping trip with his good friend, Dr. Edward Gurston, in the snowy mountains around Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Jim sees a car spin out of control on the ice and careen over the side of the road. Hurrying to aid the accident victims, Doc and Jim meet John and his homicidal friend Red, who pulls a gun on them. His thoughts returning to the present, Jim asserts that he left the money behind in the mountains. Red, anxious to eliminate Jim, brandishes his gun, but John slams it out of his hand. In the confusion, Jim escapes and speeds off in his captors' car. After driving to Marie's address, Jim begs her to let him in and then accuses her of betraying him to John and Red. When Marie protests her innocence, Jim realizes that the thugs will follow him to her apartment and warns of their danger. Returning to the past, Jim remembers John calmly explaining that he and Red have just robbed a bank and since Jim and Doc are the only two men who can recognize them, they must be killed. After the trigger-happy Red shoots Doc with his hunting rifle, John hands the empty weapon to Jim and orders him to shoot himself, thus making it seem that he committed suicide after killing Doc. Red tosses Jim a shell, but after Jim loads the gun, he takes a shot at Red, who then fires back and shoots Jim. His thoughts returning to the present, Jim tells Marie that the bullet bounced off a piece of rock, which then ricocheted and knocked him out, leading the robbers to believe that he was dead. At that moment, John and Red drive up to Marie's apartment building, sending Jim and Marie fleeing out the rear. Back in the safety of his room, Jim continues telling Marie that he had been waiting for the snow-blocked roads to reopen so that he could return to the mountains and retrieve the money. Recalling the past, Jim remembers that upon regaining consciousness, he went to fetch Doc's bag to treat his wound and discovered that the thieves snatched the wrong satchel and left the cash behind. Convinced that the money would lend credence to his innocence in Doc's murder, Jim ran off with it but later dropped the bag in the deep snow. Returning to the present, Jim explains that after Doc's body was found, a manhunt was organized for his killer, and consequently, Jim changed his name from Art Rayburn to Jim Vanning and migrated across the country. The next morning, Jim purchases two tickets for the evening bus to Wyoming. That afternoon, as Marie struts down the runway at the fashion show, she spots John and Red in the audience. When Jim arrives to meet her, she runs off the runway to warn him, and they jump into a cab and speed to the bus station. Following them, Ben boards the bus, and later at a rest stop, while standing next to Jim at the bathroom sinks, Ben mentions that he asked Jim for a light on Hollywood Boulevard several days earlier. Upon reaching their destination, Jim instructs Marie to rent a car and then meet him. As Jim waits for Marie, Ben approaches and informs Jim that he is an insurance investigator hired to retrieve the stolen money. When Jim begs Ben to arrest him and end his ordeal, Ben confides that he believes Jim is innocent and asks him to lead him to the money. After Marie arrives, they drive off together and soon spot a series of footprints in the snow leading to a shack. Inside the shack, John and Red, having found the satchel, await their arrival. When John instructs Red to tie them up and leave them stranded in the snow, the murderous Red rebels and shoots John. Jim then grabs John's rifle, jumps out the window and flees. After emptying his gun at Jim, Red jumps into an abandoned snow plow and starts the engine. Jim climbs into the cab, and they begin to wrestle, tumbling out of the moving truck and onto the ground. As Jim pushes Red into the snow, the menacing plow swerves and crushes him.