Three fortune-hunters heading for the Californian Gold Rush find themselves stranded in a Mexican port. Gary Cooper plays Hooker, a rootless man of few words. Richard Widmark is Fiske, a slick gambler with a sardonic sense of humour; and Cameron Mitchell plays Daly, an impetuous gunman with a weakness for women. While they pass the time in a cantina (watching Rita Moreno singing and dancing), a beautiful American (Susan Hayward) walks in and offers an enormous reward to anyone who can rescue her husband, trapped in a goldmine in hostile Apache territory. The three of them, together with a local man, accept and the group ventures on a journey into the remote mountains, beset with tension, lust, jealousy, suspicion and fear.