In 1882, sharp-shooting marshal Frame Johnson (Ronald Reagan) apprehends notorious outlaw The Durango Kid and brings him back to Tombstone, Arizona for a fair trial. The whole town, including Frame's two younger brothers, Luther and hot-headed Jimmy, heralds the two men's arrival. Although Frame and the law and order he has brought to Tombstone are widely respected, an angry mob quickly forms around the jail to lynch The Kid. Facing them alone, Frame threatens to shoot anyone who enters the jail. Later, Frame tells Jimmy that he is tired of giving people something they do not appreciate, and that they are leaving town. Frame visits his girlfriend Jeannie (Dorothy Malone), he informs her that he has given up marshalling for a ranch in Cottonwood, where they can marry and settle down. When they arrive at the Cottonwood saloon the next evening, their entrance is noted by local rancher Kurt Durling, whose hand Frame shot off in a cattle rustling raid. Durling, who now runs Cottonwood, vows revenge. It looks like he may have to clean up Cottonwood too. But how great a sacrifice will he make for law and order?