The catch-all title Tribute to a Bad Man had been floating around MGM for years (at one point, it was the working title for The Bad and the Beautiful) before it was finally affixed to this big-budget western. Originally intended as a vehicle for Spencer Tracy, the film was recast with James Cagney when Tracy walked out of his MGM contract. Cagney stars as no-nonsense land baron Jeremy Rodock, who plays by his own rules, his own sense of justice and his own code of honor. Young cowhand Steve Miller (Don Dubbins) learns the hard way what it means to incur Rodock's wrath when he falls in love with Jocasta Constantine (Irene Papas), whom Rodock considers his own personal property. Through the example of the even-tempered Miller, however, Rodock rediscovers his own essential humanity. The film's "money scene" takes place when Rodock punishes a group of scraggly horse thieves by forcing them to march barefoot through the sagebrush.