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Tombstone, Arizona, attracts a motley combination of prospectors, ranchers and outlaws. In the late 1800s, Curly Bill, head of a gang of bandits and rustlers, controls the town lawmen, including Mayor Dan Crane, and constantly terrorizes the town with his drunken rampages. When Wyatt Earp, renowned for cleaning out the lawless element from Dodge City, Kansas, comes to town with his brothers, Virgil and Morgan, Crane challenges Wyatt to arrest Curly Bill, and is surprised when he complies. Shortly thereafter, Curly Bill is released by the judge and immediately resumes his activities, but when a young boy is injured, Wyatt agrees to stay on as sheriff. Curly Bill stays out of Tombstone because Wyatt posts restrictions that curtail his fun, and he threatens to kill Crane unless he arranges to lure Wyatt to his saloon. When a stranger named Johnny Duane comes to his saloon, Curly Bill forces Crane to hire him to pose as the tax assessor, and Crane tells Wyatt that he must accompany Johnny to enforce the tax collection. When they force Curly Bill, the Clantons and the McLowerys to pay their taxes, and then repel an attack by the same, the outlaws vow revenge. Wyatt, meanwhile, realizes that Johnny intends to rob him of the tax money and turn it over to Curly Bill, and he appeals to Johnny's better nature to relent. Johnny returns to Curly Bill without the money, but informs him of a silver shipment, which they then rob. Wyatt, hoping to reform Johnny, sends for his former girl friend, Ruth Grant, whom he left because she wanted him to go straight. Johnny again rebuffs Ruth until she pretends to work as a hostess at the Bird Cage Theatre. Concerned for her safety, Johnny promises to marry Ruth and go straight. The Clantons and McLowerys call for a showdown with the Earps at the O.K. Corral, and the Earps's friends, Doc Holliday and Tadpole, fight alongside them. Wyatt tries to arrest the outlaws, rather than fight them, but the outlaws only pretend to comply, and then start shooting. Morgan is killed, as are many of the outlaw gang, and Crane has Wyatt and his brothers indicted for murder, claiming that he shot first while the Clantons' had their hands up. The court dismisses the charges on the basis that Wyatt has done a service to the community by killing the outlaws, but Crane then dismisses him as sheriff. After one of the Clanton gang murders Virgil, Wyatt hires on as a federal marshal. Curly Bill tries to lure Johnny, who has been working an honest job, back into the gang by giving him a share of his proceeds from the previous robbery, but Johnny turns it over to Wyatt and joins him in a plan to entrap Curly Bill and his gang at their next robbery attempt. A shootout during the robbery between the two factions results in Curly Bill's death, and, with the criminal elements finally brought to justice, Wyatt abandons his job as peacekeeper and heads for California.