Loyal Griggs' cinematography uses the Grand Teton Mountains as a scenic backdrop in framing a simple story of ranchers vs. homesteaders in early Wyoming. Alan Ladd stars as the enigmatic gunfighter named Shane. Ladd has seldom been better. He sides with a homesteader family (Van Heflin, Jean Arthur and Brandon DeWilde) against local ranchers named Ryker (Elisha Meyer and John Dierkes). The Rykers hire a gunfighter (Jack Palance) from Cheyenne to drive off the homesteaders. Shane tries to put down his gun and start a new life, but the plot inevitably forces him to a fateful climax with the Rykers and the hired gun.