Scripted by Dalton Trumbo and directed by Robert Aldrich, this off-beat, almost eclectic film could be hailed as a thinking person's western. It is the dark cat-and-mouse tale of a sherrif's hunt for a philosophy-spouting criminal in the midst of a great cattle drive. The outlaw killed the sherrif's brother-in-law. During his flight, the outlaw pauses long enough to drop by the ranch where his former lover lives with her husband and 16-year-old daughter. While there, the rancher hires him to lead a cattle drive to Texas. The sheriff soon catches up, but he decides to help the killer with the drive before bringing him in. Along the way, the two men gain a grudging respect for one another. Also the sheriff begins to fall in love with the rancher's wife, while the crook finds himself drawn to her lovely daughter. The rancher ends up killed during the trip and this allows the romances to bloom until the widow tells the outlaw an awful secret about the young woman he loves. Grecian-style tragedy ensues.