Mann's finest Western casts Stewart as a wagon train leader, guiding a group of settlers through Indian country to the Oregon Territory. Stewart is a man haunted by a secret, his violent past as a Missouri border raider - a past which catches up with him when another former raider (Kennedy) joins the wagon train. The two men are paralleled throughout, Kennedy representing the old violence which may yet erupt in the reformed Stewart, and the whole film is concerned with the testing of Stewart's capacity for change. Continually provoked by his spiky relationship with Kennedy, Stewart is a man who must clarify and reaffirm his new relationship with a peaceful society. Lighthearted comedy, majestic scenery, and superbly handled action are fused into a unifying moral vision which, though it deals with abstractions, always expresses itself through visible actions and tangible symbols.