Two men have persuaded an oil company to finance a pioneering off-shore oil rig; but local shrimpers don’t like dynamiting, and two attractive sisters become involved with the two men.
In 1946 in Louisiana a truck with Teche Bossier (Gilbert Roland) picks up Steve Martin (James Stewart) and Johnny Gambi (Dan Duryea) and gives them a ride to Port Felicity. Johhny tells Dominique Rigaud (Antonio Moreno) they would like to rent his shrimp boat; but his daughter Stella Rigaud (Joanne Dru) asks if they have the $50. Their investor Kermit MacDonald (Jay C. Flippen) and his secretary Rawlings (Harry Morgan) arrive in a plane. The four go out in the boat, and Steve tells them how they could build a platform for an oil-drilling rig. MacDonald asks what it would cost, and Steve says one million dollars. Rawlings advises against it, but MacDonald gives him three months. When they come in, Stella asks for the $50, and MacDonald gives Steve $300 in advance.
Steve and Johnny come back in larger boats, and Johnny meets Francesca Rigaud (Marcia Henderson). A bartender tells Teche he has no more credit, and Teche wins a circle game. Stella is against renting their boat to Johnny, but he rents Teche’s boat. After they get drunk, Teche throws Johnny out of the circle. Johnny kisses Francesca, and Stella slaps him. Stella warns them about these men with their money. Steve tells her that the oil will be good for the town.
Steve and Johnny go out in a boat while Teche goes with him in his boat. They use depth charges, and Teche complains it is destroying the shrimp beds. Steve goes on Teche’s boat and throws him overboard. Steve and Johnny remove their equipment from Teche’s boat. Teche tells people that Stella was right, and they plan a meeting. In the evening Stella calls on Steve, and he asks who hurt her. As Teche and people approach, Steve throws dynamite to keep them away. They run away. Steve asks Johnny to stay away from Francesca, and Johnny sends her home. Stella thanks Steve.
Steve and Johnny use depth charges at night. Dominique has an official give Steve a “cease and desist” order, but Steve says he finished dynamiting. MacDonald brings a crew to build the rig, and Steve shows him his plans.
The rig is built, and Johnny wants to celebrate. Steve says they have 26 days to find oil. Johnny and his men take a night off because of the weather report. Jealous Phillipe Bayard (Robert Monet), who is engaged to Francesca, hits Johnny. Francesca tells Phillipe she never wants to see him again. Francesca tells Stella that Johnny wants to marry her. Stella tries to warn her. Stella goes to Steve and asks if she can stay because of the storm. He tells her about oil, and they have coffee. She asks him to fire Johnny, and Steve lectures her and then kisses her. She admits she wants what Francesca found.
Phillipe tells Teche he is going to blow up the platform, and Teche takes him out in his boat during the storm. Phillipe goes on the platform with dynamite. Steve sees him, and Phillipe lights the fuse. Steve fights with Philippe, who pulls out a knife. Steve throws Phillipe aside and throws the dynamite in the sea. Louis falls in the water, and Steve jumps in with a rope to save him; but Phillipe dies. Stella watches, and Steve blames her for her act.
Teche tells Dominique that Phillipe is dead. Dominique finds out Stella was with Steve, and he says she does not belong there anymore. Steve tells Johnny he paid the bar $500, and the men go with him to work on drilling.
Johnny tells Steve it may blow, but Steve says keep it going. MacDonald wakes up Steve and says the board voted to stop drilling tomorrow. MacDonald says he has been paying for it. They hear a bell and call for all hands on the rig. They see water spouting out. The preventer won’t open, and they do it manually. The water stops. MacDonald thanks the men. Steve asks them to work for a week for a possible $200 bonus, but they say no. Johnny returns in a suit, and Steve knocks him down. They fight, and Johnny says he got married. Steve says he will do it himself. Johnny says he may do it, and he urges the others to stay. MacDonald ups the bonus to $300, and they agree.
Stella sends Francesca to Steve, and she tells him her father is trying to annul the marriage. Johnny tells Steve shrimp are clogging up the drill and under the platform. In the bar Dominique says they took his daughter and asks them to bring her back. Stella asks Teche to tell Steve what happened, and she says she loves Steve. Teche warns Steve of the trouble coming. Teche tells him that Stella did not know he and Phillipe were coming out. Steve asks Teche to take his boat out and shows him a large shrimp. Steve asks him to keep them from clogging up their rig at night. Several boats are coming, and Steve goes down to talk with them. He talks with Dominique and says the oil is needed. The rig is about to blow and strikes oil, which erupts.
In the morning Teche shows people the golden shrimp. Francesca hugs her father, and he shakes hands with Johnny. Teche tells Steve that Stella is waiting for the bus. Steve takes Teche’s truck and picks up Stella.
This adventure drama depicts an effort to move the oil industry into the sea, and the conflicts it brings are portrayed with melodramatic violence and romance. A woman who has been deeply hurt emotionally in New York mistrusts anyone with money, but she learns not to judge all men the same way.