Ladd plays Choya, a gunfighter type who's convinced by a no good crook named Leffingwell (Robert Keith) to pose as the long-lost kidnapped son of a wealthy ranching family, the Laverys (Charles Bickford and Selena Royle).
Choya goes along with it, going so far as to have a birthmark tatooed on his shoulder, yet once he meets the Laverys he's overcome by their kindness. And he's very uncomfortable being "brother" to pretty Ruth (Mona Freeman), for whom he feels more than brotherly affection.
Choya can't go through with the charade and decides he will find the Laverys' true missing son (Peter Hansen), who turns out to have been adopted by a Mexican bandit, Rubriz (Joseph Calleia). Rubriz thought the little boy had been abandoned and has raised him with love. Getting the son away from Rubriz is a tall order, especially as the young man also loves his "father."
The movie is slow out of the starting gate and later has a very long-drawn-out action sequence, but the actual interactions of Choya with both families are very interesting, when the movie's pared down to those scenes.
It's curious that the movie's pacing is so odd, as IMDb lists the time as 104 minutes; the DVD I watched was 94 minutes, which is an alternate running time listed. The movie needed better editing, which makes me wonder what other print might be out there.
The other actors in the film are always good, and this film is no exception. Joseph Calleia is particularly strong as the bandit who loves his adopted son deeply, and Tom Tully, playing the Lavery ranch foreman, is a welcome name in any cast.
The movie was directed by Rudolph Mate, a former cinematographer, and filmed by Charles Lang. The movie was shot on location in Arizona as well as Kanab, Utah. The screenplay was based on a Max Brand novel, MONTANA RIDES.
The DVD is a beautiful print although I noticed that a couple things in the opening credits were in bright white, which didn't match the font style and color of the rest of the credits; the white words seemed to have been superimposed over the original sequence. Along with the running time, that made me curious.
The DVD is no longer available for rental from Netflix, which doesn't seem to bother replacing older films when the DVDs wear out, but it can be rented from ClassicFlix.
The film can also be bought via Amazon download, and it had a VHS release.
May 2014 Update: This film was recently reissued on DVD by the Warner Archive.