Peter Van Hook (Alan Ladd), alias The Dutchman, is nearing the end of a stretch in Yuma Territorial Prison for a gold robbery that he didn't commit. Released early with the unwitting -- and unwilling -- help of fellow inmate John McBain (Ernest Borgnine), he sets about getting even with the men and the mining company whose original owner got him into trouble, in a plan of double- and triple-crosses for which he needs the reluctant help of McBain. The latter wants nothing more than to go back to the life of a rancher -- and then he discovers something equally important in life, when he steps in to help a victimized Mexican woman (Katy Jurado). Suddenly, McBain is very interested in the Dutchman's scheme, and with the help of explosives expert Vincente (Nehemiah Persoff), they pull off what looks like an absolutely perfect robbery of a gold mine -- even the evidence that a crime was committed ends up being covered up. But Cyirl Lounsberry (Kent Smith), the financier who's supposed to fence the gold, has other ideas, and a crooked lawman (Adam Williams) to back him up.