In the town of El Dorado, wealthy landowner Bart Jason (Ed Asner) is embroiled in a struggle with the MacDonald family, who own a large amount of land just outside town lines. Jason hires gunman Cole Thornton (John Wayne) to scare the MacDonalds in hope that they'll back down. Cole is pleased to discover that his old friend J.B. (Robert Mitchum) is now the sheriff of the town. The sheriff warns Cole that involvement with the crooked Jason will get him arrested. Further circumstances entwine the hired gun with the MacDonald family, and he sets out to destroy Jason. Hawks' unheralded western, with a fine script by Leigh Brackett (THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK), features plot similarities to his earlier classic RIO BRAVO.