With a cast of notable stars, acclaimed director John Huston guides this western with an unerring hand. Huston crafts the story with a series of suspenseful scenes, having a mysterious stranger ride horseback into a small community in the Texas Panhandle and then proceed to cause a mini-war. The time is the mid-19th century and antagonism already exists between the white settlers in the community and the local Kiowa Indian nation. The Zachary family find themselves at the core of this animosity. The matriarch, Matilda (Lillian Gish) holds a family secret — her adopted daughter Rachel (Audrey Hepburn) is actually a Kiowa child. The three brothers in the Zachary family hold differing views on their duties to their family and their hostility towards the Kiowa. While Ben (Burt Lancaster) is obviously in love with Rachel, another, Cash (Audie Murphy) hates Native Americans, and the youngest (Doug McClure) will defend his family when in need. The stranger on horseback does the unthinkable and makes it widely known that Rachel is a Kiowa. The Zachary family secret is at last exposed and the battle begins.