In a Texan town, Mace Bishop (Stewart) frees his brother Dee (Martin) from the gallows after Dee and his gang were arrested for a bank robbery. Dee and his gang take Maria Stoner (Welch), whose husband was killed by one of Dee's gang members during their bank robbery, as a hostage. The fugitives are chased by local sheriff July Johnson (Kennedy) across the Mexican border into territory policed by bandoleros, whom Maria describes as men out to kill any gringos that they can find. The sheriff's posse tracks them down and captures the gang, but the bandoleros also arrive, forcing the sheriff the release the outlaws so that they can fight back. Complicating matters, Maria falls for Dee.
Not to be confused with the Spanish animated series Bandolero.
This film features examples of:
- Action Prologue: The film opens with a bank robbery where Maria's husband and one of Dee's men die before Johnson and Roscoe capture the other outlaws.
- Anachronism Stew: The film is stated to take place after the Civil War, in 1867, but elements from later time periods appear:
- The $10 bill sticking out of Mace's backpack is of 20th-century design.
- The hangman claims to have just passed through Oklahoma City. Oklahoma City did not exist until 1889, after the land run.
- The hangman sings "Bringing In the Sheaves", but the song hadn't been written yet in 1867. He sang the 1874 lyrics by Knowles Shaw to the 1880 melody by George Minor.
- Anyone Can Die: Pretty much every character of importance besides Maria and Sheriff Johnson dies.
- Arranged Marriage: Maria states that her late husband purchased her from her family, and thus never loved him.
- Artistic License – Geography: When the outlaws supposedly cross the river into Mexico, the direction of the water current indicates they are actually crossing into Texas.
- Attempted Rape: The bandoleros' boss attempts to rape Maria, but is stopped by Dee. This results in Dee being fatally stabbed.
- Bandito: The titular bandoleros, who serve as the antagonists of the film.
- Bash Brothers: The Bishop brothers.
- Downer Ending: Pretty much every character of importance besides Maria and sheriff Johnson dies.
- Dwindling Party: The posse starts out with around a dozen men. Four of them abandon the chase or are killed by the bandoleros around halfway through the movie, with the two who quit being killed by the bandits as well once their friends are out of sight. During the final shootout, most of the others are killed, save for July, Mauve Shirt Hayjack, and a couple of background characters.
- Enemy Mine: When the bandoleros arrive just as the sheriff's posse managed to capture the gang, the sheriff releases the outlaws so that they can team up and fight back.
- Fighting Irish: Robbie O'Hare (the only one of Dee's men besides Dee himself to be portrayed with any sympathy) has a thick Irish brogue and doesn't shy away from combat.
- Hollywood Costuming: Maria is shown wearing a blouse which has buttons up the entire front, as does sheriff Johnson. This style of clothing wasn't commonly available until the early 1920s. Likewise, the clothing on nearly all of the male characters demonstrates stitching that would require an electric sewing machine to manufacture. These were not commonly available until after the turn of the century.
- Hypocritical Humor: When Pop Chaney boasts about the Evil Virtues his father taught, he mentions not scratching himself, then realizes he's scratching himself, and quickly adds "in front of his ma."
- Old Cop, Young Cop: Sheriff Johnson is about a decade older than his deputy, Roscoe Bookbinder. Both men are worldly and competent lawmen, although Roscoe is better groomed and less emotionally involved in the pursuit of the Bishop gang.
- Romancing the Widow: Dee and Maria fall for each other after her husband has been killed (by Dee's gang). She states that she never loved him in the first place, having purchased her from her family.
- Run for the Border: Dee and the gang are chased by the sheriff's posse across the Mexican border.
- Token Good Teammate: Mace. He only starts breaking the law to free his brother, constantly questions him on why he chose this path, and his last act before dying from his wounds is to return the stolen money to Sheriff Johnson.