Logan Reese (Jason Robards) owns the sawmill that employs nearly the entire town of Deroy. Reese's unwillingness to completely strip the forest of its redwoods lands him in debt, leading the the threat of a large corporation shutting down the mill. An unlikely ally for Reese surfaces in the form of Frank Burris (Eddie Mills), the town outcast who lives alone in the woods. Frank causes an uproar by romancing the mill manager's daughter (Hilary Swank). But after discovering gold in the woods, Frank develops a plan that could possibly put Reese back in the black.