Based on Harold Bell Wright's novel, a quiet man tries to end a family curse by settling among a mountain community of moonshiners.
Jim Lane (Tom Fadden) is shot, but he and his daughter Sammy Lane (Betty Field) do not let on and get the two men to leave. Daniel Howitt (Harry Carey) arrives to settle down and treats Jim's wound. Sammy quarrels with Matt (John Wayne), and he slaps her. Then she says Jim was shot. Matt mourns his mother and vows revenge. Coot Royal (John Qualen) says his girl is dying. Daniel goes and helps her recover. At a store Daniel shows Sammy he can cash a check and gets $40 from Corky (Olin Howlin). Daniel and Sammy go to buy land from the Mathews family, and he agrees to pay Mollie (Beulah Bondi) $1,000 for Moanin' Meadow; but Sammy says she won't go there. Daniel finds a piano and jewelry. Pete (Marc Lawrence) shoots at Daniel and runs away. Sammy finds Matt with Jim, and Matt gives her lace. Matt learns his aunt Mollie got $100 for selling his mother's land. Matt tells Daniel to get off the land; but Andy Beeler (Samuel S. Hinds) takes Matt's bullets. Daniel gives Sammy cloth and moves his things. Sammy visits Daniel at night, and he says that Matt is his son.
At the store Corky tells Wash (Ward Bond) he won't buy his liquor, but Wash forces him to do so. Wash tells Pete not to work for Daniel with his sheep. Wash fights Matt. Sammy tells Matt that Daniel is a good shepherd. Matt goes fishing with Daniel and tells him that his land has a curse. Daniel tells Matt that Sammy loves him. Mollie complains about Daniel, who comes in and pays her and Pete. Daniel invites them for music. Granny Becky (Marjorie Main) arrives and has her blindfold removed, enabling her to see for the first time. Granny says that Mollie has changed to hate and says that Matt is the son of Daniel. Mollie tries to stop Pete from throwing away Matt's rifle, and Pete is shot by accident. Sammy tries to stop Matt from killing. Pete dies, and Mollie cries. Mollie makes a ring of fire around Pete's body on the floor. In a gun duel Daniel shoots Matt. The Mathews house burns. A doctor says that Matt needs the will to live. Matt hears Sammy talk to Daniel, who says he was in prison for killing and did not want Matt to have the same fate. Matt has changed and asks Sammy to marry; she agrees.
This drama in the Ozark mountains shows how hatred can
poison people and cause more misery; but the gentle love of a
reformed man helps others to realize the folly of that.