This is one of several solid B-grade Westerns produced at the height of the genre's popularity in the '50s by the partnership of director Budd Boetticher, star Randolph Scott, and writer Burt Kennedy.
Scott stars as Ben Brigade, a taciturn bounty hunter who captures wanted murderer Billy John (James Best) and heads for Santa Cruz, where a reward awaits Brigade and a rope most likely awaits the killer.
There's more to Brigade than meets the eye, however; his actual quarry is Frank (Lee Van Cleef), his prisoner's brother and the man who killed Brigade's wife. At a trading post where Brigade and his prisoner have stopped, Indians attack. The bounty hunter saves the life of Mrs. Lane (Karen Steele), wife of the post's deceased manager.
Lane decides to accompany her rescuer to Santa Cruz, so Brigade, counting on a showdown with Frank, hires outlaws Sam and Whit (Pernell Roberts and James Coburn) for protection on the duration of the journey. During the trip, Sam and Whit discuss betraying Brigade and turning in Billy John themselves for a reward and pardon.
Coburn made his screen debut with the film.