This typical western tale of beleaguered townsfolk mustering up the courage to fight the villain that controls their town with an iron fist features atypically bloody violence. Supposedly the top peacekeeper in the frontier town of Jericho, Sheriff Alex Flood (Dean Martin) is actually a ruthless bully and racketeer who owns or profitably intimidates every enterprise in Jericho with the help of his henchmen, including the Yarbrough (Slim Pickens). That is, every business except the lucrative stagecoach line run by the widow Molly Lang (Jean Simmons) and Hickman (John McIntire). Predictably, Flood wants command of the stage business, too, but Lang resists him, even when threatened with bodily harm. Tough gambler Dolan (George Peppard), a former marshal, rides into town intending to work for Lang as a driver, but when he learns of the tension between Lang and Flood he backs off, not wanting any trouble. However, when Yarbrough is caught by Lang trying to sabotage a coach on her property, the thug savagely beats her, forcing Dolan to get involved.