Mitchum has been hiding out in a small town running a gas station and pitching woo at an innocent local girl played by Virginia Huston. The movie opens on this as his past catches up to him. Douglas sends his henchman Joe to summon Mitchum. He goes to see Douglas with Huston and tells her his sad tale along the way which we see as the flashback. In sum, it's the tale of how he got tangled up with Greer and Douglas and how that ended with him living in a small town under an assumed name.