Jeremy Rodock (James Cagney) makes his living by raising horses in the Rocky Mountain valley that bears his name. Anyone foolish enough to steal those horses makes his own dyin.' "Let one buzzard live, and he'll pick your bones clean," explains Jeremy, who -- with courtrooms some 200 miles away -- dispenses justice his way: with a noose. But that's not the way of Jeremy's companion Jo (Irene Papas), a former honky-tonk queen. She wants him to change, and there's a greener valley somewhere for her if he won't. He will. Swayed by Jo and a recently arrived tenderfoot from the East, Rodock will finally realize that justice requires mercy. There's a lot of good in this bad man.