Man-with-a-past James Stewart guides a band of pioneers from Missouri over the Oregon Trail to a new life in the Columbia River Basin in this western adventure directed by Anthony Mann. When the settlers are cheated out of their supplies and cattle, Stewart crosses rivers, climbs mountains and out-guns greedy hijackers to ensure their survival through the first winter. Along the way, he is double-crossed by ally Arthur Kennedy and assisted by handsome San Francisco gambler Rock Hudson and beautiful farmer's daughter Julia Adams.
In a marksmanship contest, Lin McAdam (Stewart) wins a prized Winchester rifle, which is immediately stolen by the runner-up, Dutch Henry Brown (McNally.) This "story of a rifle" then follows McAdams' pursuit, and the rifle as it changes hands, until a final showdown and shoot-out on a rocky mountain precipice.
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