Kirk Douglas produced, directed, and starred in this cynical western concerning Howard Nightingale (Kirk Douglas) a United States marshal who uses the pursuit of an outlaw to further his political career. Nightingale organizes a posse to track down Jack Strawhorn (Bruce Dern), a notorious bank robber. But Strawhorn turns the tables on Nightingale, kidnapping him and holding him hostage. He then demands that the posse pay $40,000 for Nightingale's safe return. In order to raise the money to free Nightingale, the posse must become bank robbers themselves. Meanwhile, Nightingale tries to insinuate himself with Strawhorn and cut a deal for his freedom.