Heller's (John Larch) gang of outlaws pull a robbery, kill a man and ride toward Mexico, fleeing a posse. To spend the night, they first head for the border town of Quantez, but are shocked to discover that it has become a ghost town, with no one else there.
The gang includes Gentry (MacMurray), the gang's most experienced man; Teach (John Gavin), a younger gunslinger who becomes interested in Chaney (Malone), who is Heller's woman but upset over the murder during the holdup; and Gato (Sydney Chaplin), who was raised by Apaches, and is infuriated by Heller's referring to him as "breed". They soon come into a confrontation with Apaches led by Delgadito (Michael Ansara).
This film features examples of:
- Automaton Horses: Completely averted. One horse collapses and has to be put down. The others have to be cooled off, fed, watered, rubbed down, and rested for at least a night before they can be ridden.
- Bookends: The film begins with the characters being chased by a posse, and ends with them being chased by Indians.
- Ghost Town: Quantez is a ghost town, with no one else there by the time Heller's gang arrives.
- Half-Breed Discrimination: Subverted. Heller actually refers to Gato as "breed", but Gato is stated to have been raised by Apaches rather than being descended from them.
- Heroic Sacrifice: More like Anti-Heroic Sacrifice, but at the end in the climatic battle, Gentry sacrifices himself to provide cover while Chaney and Teach make their getaway.
- If I Can't Have You...: Heller is willing to leave Chaney behind in the Ghost Town, but not to let one of the others stay with her.
- In Love with the Gangster's Girl: Both Teach and Gentry develop feelings for Chaney, the mistress of Heller, the leader of a gang. As if to make matters more complicated, they are members of that gang too.
- Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: Gato ends up being fed-up with Heller's abuse and has the Apaches side with him to kill the gang and steal the loot.
- Motive Rant: Heller's speech about the hard life he's lived and how it has made him the man he is...determined to pay some of it back.
- Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: After Gato turns against the gang and sides with Delgadito, he is killed by Delgalito himself in the climatic battle.
- Run for the Border: Heller's gang ride towards Mexico to avoid the law after they pull a robbery.
- The Savage Indian: Delgadito's Apaches end up serving as the antagonists of the film. This movie at least attempts to downplaying it by, rather than having the Apaches doing so due to being Always Chaotic Evil, do it to steal the loot from our Villain Protagonists, and even that was Gato's idea.
- The Stoic: Gentry never raises his voice or allows any of the proceedings to get under his skin.
- Thou Shalt Not Kill: Teach isn't a cold-blooded killer—and Gentry encourages him to stay that way.
- You Are Better Than You Think You Are!: Gentry reassures Chaney that she's a worthwhile human being, not just something to be used and tossed aside by the likes of Heller.