The youngest Maverick brother, Brent, has taken the town council for everything they have and the sheriff is running him out of town on the next stage. When the stage pulls in, Brent is surprised to see his brother Bart aboard. Bart is en route to Abilene to relieve some cowboys of their wages, and is glad to have Brent accompany him. As the stage continues, the brothers play against the other passengers. The stage finally arrives in Sunburst to drop off the mail, and the passengers keep playing. When Sheriff Shadley realizes what they’re doing, he informs them that gambling is illegal in Sunburst. Bart lets Brent take the blame for owning the cards, and the sheriff hauls him out and tells the others to continue on.
As Shadley takes Brent to jail, they meet Joanne Moss and her aunt, Nettie. He appeals to them and they ask what he’s done. When she learns that he’s a gambler, Joanne explains that Sunburst forbids gambling, gunfighting, and dance hall girls. Shadley locks Brent up, and then brings in another prisoner, Pedro Rubio. The sheriff explains that Rubio threw a rock and broke a window. Once he leaves, Rubio explains that he has been in jail for 20 years on a false murder charge, and he just got out. Rubio got himself arrested figuring he’d be safer in jail, but doesn’t tell Brent what he’s safer from.
Shadley brings the prisoners their meals and nervously glances out the door, unlocks it, leaves the jail cell on the hook, and then goes to his office. Rubio then explains that he can live in jail until Thursday, when Judge Feifer holds court. Brent points out that Feifer is the toughest judge in the state, but Rubio believes that Feifer is a just man, and the real murderer will be in court. The old man believes that he can point out the murderer and convince Feifer that he’s innocent.
Later that night, three masked men enter the unlocked door, open the cell door, and leave with Rubio. When Brent tries to interfere, they knock him out and lock him up. When Brent wakes up, he yells for help and Rubio breaks away. When he tries to run away, the men shoot him down and run off into the night.
The next morning, Shadley and Mayor Moss come in. Mayor wants Brent to do what he can to identify the masked men, but Brent says he doesn’t know anything more than he told Shadley the previous night. Moss insists that Rubio couldn’t have had any enemies in town, given what they’ve done to make the place pure. He offers to let Brent go on the next stage, but warns that Brent would be better off helping them and avoiding lynching because some townspeople suspect he was an inside man. Brent takes his gun belt and leaves.
As he shaves at his new hotel room, Brent hears a knock at the door. It’s Andalucía Rubio, Pedro’s daughter. She asks him for help, but Brent insists that he just wants to get out of Sunburst. Andalucía says that when Rubio came home, she had to tell him that his wife, her mother, died two years ago. Brent admits that he believed Rubio’s claim of innocence, but says that as a gambler, nobody in town will trust him. Andalucía explains that she has no one else to turn to because everyone thinks of her as the “convict’s daughter,” and she thought Brent would be different. He gives in and agrees to help her, but insists that he has to be on the stage the next day.
As Brent leaves the hotel, he runs into Nettie and Joanne. They explain that they are preparing a history of the town and want Brent’s eyewitness report on the murder. Brent agrees to help and they all go in to see Shadley. The sheriff is less than thrilled to see Brent back, particularly when Brent points out that he hung up the cell keys. Shadley claims that the keys are in his desk, but he refuses to produce them and attacks Brent. Brent knocks him down and draws his gun, and suggests that the ladies leave. Once they’re gone, Brent demands answers and threatens to involve Feifer. Shadley still insists that he’s innocent, and tells Brent to get aboard the stage if he leaves. He offers Brent $5,000 to go, and warns that they’re both as good as dead if they turn in the three men. Brent refuse to leave and says he’s going to see Mayor Moss, and Shadley tells him to hole up at the hotel for now and he’ll meet him later to explain.
Mayor Moss is meeting with Robbins and discussing the school budget when Dave Taylor and McGuire, two local ranchers, come in. After Robbins leaves, they tell Moss that Brent didn’t leave on the stage, and is writing a letter to Feifer. Moss wants to see the letter and then dispose of Brent. Joanne comes in and tells her uncle that she and Nettie have discovered that Brent has a clue to Rubio’s death. She finally tells Moss that Shadley left the jail cell key behind, and asks her uncle to call Shadley onto the carpet. Moss refuses, saying that he trusts Shadley implicitly. Joanne refuses to drop the matter and goes to get more details. Once she’s gone, Moss tells them to dispose of Shadley. McGuire goes to tell Shadley that Brent wants to meet him at the hotel. They figure that they can get the letter then and dispose of both of them that night.
That night, Brent leaves his letter with the hotel clerk, who takes it to the evening stage. Brent leaves, unaware that McGuire watched the entire exchange. He takes the letter from the clerk.
In Abilene, Bart tries to break off his winning streak and go to rescue Brent. However, the other players insist he stay so they can win back their money.
Shadley leaves his office and Taylor guns him down. Brent hears the shot and comes running. The two men exchange shots and a wounded Taylor makes good his escape. Brent runs to the dying man, unaware that McGuire is preparing to shoot him. However, Joanne runs out of the nearby town hall and Brent gets her to cover inside a stable. She figures that Brent was in on Rubio’s murder with Shadley, and killed Shadley to cover himself. Brent notes that if he was guilty, he would have killed her already. He puts down his gun and offers it to her. Joanne believes him and suggests that they take what he knows to her uncle.
McGuire and Taylor have gone back to see Moss and tell him that Brent is still alive. When Brent and Joanne arrive, Taylor hides so they don’t see his wound. Moss acts appropriately shocked at the news of Shadley’s death, and makes sure that the sheriff didn’t tell Brent anything. Brent then tells them everything he’s learned. Once he’s done, Moss confirms that Andalucía didn’t know who really murdered the man that her father was convicted of killing. The mayor then asks Brent to return to his hotel room until Feifer arrives. Joanne accompanies him out, and Brent offers to kiss her. She says that he should ask, but admits that she doesn’t know how to kiss. He starts to explain, but Nettie comes out and interrupts them. She explains that she found an old will tucked away in the attic and insists that Joanne read it. Brent wishes them a good night.
Bart continues to win until the last player is out, and then rides to Sunburst.
Brent returns to the hotel and the clerk gives him a note that he claims is from a girl. It’s apparently from Andalucía, and she asks Brent to come to her farm so she can tell him who the murderer is. He rides out and McGuire and Taylor open fire. Brent takes refuge in the house as Andalucía wakes up. She says that she didn’t write the note and Brent accepts her story. A stray shot shatters a lamp, setting the kitchen table on fire. Brent tries to put out the flames without success, and Andalucía points out a trapdoor. They quickly climb down, and take the escape tunnel. Andalucía tears her nightgown and insists that she can’t be seen after sunset in half a night gown. Brent goes after McGuire and Taylor, but they ride away before he can capture them. He gets clothing for Andalucía, who recognized Taylor and identifies him as the richest rancher in the area. Brent chivalrously turns her back as she changes, and then tells her to have Moss swear in deputies and meet him at Taylor’s ranch.
Brent rides to the Taylor ranch and finds Taylor in the stables, tending to his nervous horse, Sultan. When Taylor comes out, Brent captures him.
Andalucía tells Moss and McGuire what happened, and they are relieved that she didn’t see the second shooter. They then tie her up.
Brent assures Taylor that Moss will soon be there and he should confess everything. Taylor admits that he and Rubio witnessed a rancher, Briton Martin, murder a man. Martin offered them a fortune, and a promise that Rubio wouldn’t hang. When he got out of prison, he and his family would be rich. Rubio took the deal, but Martin died of a heart attack after making sure that Rubio didn’t hang. Taylor refuses to identify the other two men, and Moss and McGuire pull up in a wagon, with a gagged Andalucía in the back. They easily capture Brent and prepare to put Andalucía in a stall with Taylor’s nervous horse. Moss explains that they’ll arrange for Brent to get “lost” in the mountains. Taylor tries to put Andalucía in the stall, but Joanne arrives with a rifle and captures Moss, McGuire, and Taylor. Joanne knows that her uncle and the other two were ranch hands, and they found Martin’s diary. They saw them put Andalucía in the wagon and followed them to the Taylor ranch. Moss insists that he did everything for the town, but Joanne condemns him for turning Sunburst into a haven of stuffed shirts. Taylor goes for his gun but Bart arrives just in time to shoot him. The rancher falls into the stall and Sultan stomps his owner to death.
Brent takes the next stage out, while Bart stays behind to introduce the townspeople to poker. Joanne, the newly rich Andalucía, and Nettie all get in the stage and decide to leave town for a change of pace. As they go, Nettie offers a game of poker. Share this article with your friends