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Although innocent, trucker Johnny Morrison is sentenced to serve one year at San Quentin Prison for smuggling. Upon his release from prison, Johnny is driven home by Egan, a fellow trucker working for Johnny's former employer, Hackett. Egan drops off Johnny in town, who then proceeds to the apartment building of Lew "Mitch" Mitchell, the man he believes framed him. Meeting on the roof of the building, where Mitch is practicing his golf swing, Johnny confronts his friend about setting him up. When Mitch denies the accusation, they fight and Mitch accidentally topples over the edge to his death. Johnny escapes without being seen and later goes to the Coastal Trucking Association to ask Hackett for his old job back. There he is greeted warmly by his former girl friend and the love of his life, Carol Wayne, who has recently been dating a surgical intern, Mike Benning, although she continues to carry a torch for Johnny. Unaware of Mitch's demise, Hackett informs Johnny that he, not Mitch, framed him in order to test his loyalty. Because Johnny did not reveal Hackett's illegal activities during the trial, he now feels that he can trust Johnny with a major "job" he has been planning for which he will pay Johnny $100,000. Before Johnny can recover from his shock, Lt. Coster of the Homicide Division arrives to carry out routine questioning regarding the death of Mitch, who was also employed by Hackett. Once Coster leaves, Hackett indicates that he assumes Johnny murdered Mitch, but is more interested in Johnny accepting the upcoming job. That evening, Johnny takes Carol to their favorite restaurant, where, she recalls, Johnny helped her when she was troubled. Realizing he is upset, she suggests they walk on the beach, where he expresses his desire to renew their romance, but agrees to wait until she sorts out her feelings. After Coster and his colleague find evidence that inconclusively indicates that Mitch may have been murdered, Coster brings Johnny in for questioning, aware that Mitch's testimony contributed to Johnny's conviction. When Coster asks where Johnny was at the time of Mitch's murder, Johnny claims he was with Egan. Later, when Egan complains to Johnny about involving him in the investigation, Johnny threatens to tell Hackett that Egan has been stealing from him by selling off portions of his deliveries unless he cooperates. Later, following Hackett's orders, Johnny drives to the farm that was Hackett's childhood home and where Hackett's parents are buried. There, Hackett explains that he wants Johnny to rob the Merritt Armored Transport Company headquarters. From a retired Merritt guard, Hackett has purchased blueprints of the buildings, personnel schedules and other documents that will help in the planning of the heist. To assist Johnny, Hackett has hired three experienced thieves, who will be paid off immediately after the robbery. To guard against the serial numbers on the stolen bills being traced back to them, Hackett plans to hide the money for three years, until the statute of limitation for the robbery runs out. Over the next few days, Johnny and his accomplices stay at the Hackett farm, carefully planning the details of the robbery. Before the night of the crime, Johnny visits Carol unannounced and, finding Mike there, threatens him, then tells Carol he will return in a few days to marry her. After he leaves, Mike warns Carol that Johnny is psychotic and a danger to her, but she tries to explain that Johnny is good, despite his hard life, and that he helped her when she was in need. Although sympathetic to Carol's loyalty to Johnny, Mike says that she will soon have to choose between them. After the robbery, Johnny pays off the men, but because of police blockades and searches, he must lie low and hide the money, instead of taking it directly to the Hackett farm. Meanwhile, Coster brings Egan in for questioning. By threatening to arrest him for stealing from Hackett, information he learned from a dock worker informant, Coster forces Egan to refute his previous statement and tell the truth, thus breaking Johnny's alibi. An all points bulletin search is issued for Johnny, and when Carol reads about in the newspaper, she becomes upset. Looking for Johnny, Coster visits Hackett, who is himself anxious to find Johnny and the stolen money. After calling Hackett and arranging a place outside of town to meet, Johnny steals a car, prompting police cars to chase him. To elude the police, Johnny abandons the car and continues in the hills on foot to rendezvous with Hackett, who then picks him up. Once Johnny retrieves the money from its hiding place, Hackett shoots him, takes the money and flees to the farm. Hearing a radio report about Johnny's escape, Mike stays with Carol to protect her, fearing that Johnny is "the loneliest man in the world and probably the most dangerous." When Johnny arrives, he knocks out Mike and abducts Carol. Regaining consciousness in time to see Johnny drive away in a car, Mike gives Coster a description of the vehicle. Police find the car after Johnny abandons it near the Hackett ranch. Johnny drags Carol, whose emotions are torn, to the ranch. Seeing Hackett burying the money in his parents' grave, Johnny shoots him, grabs the money, and goes into the barn with Carol as several police cars arrive and policemen surround the building. Realizing that the injured Johnny is dying, Carol urges him to surrender and promises to marry him if he agrees. After telling Carol that he loves her, Johnny walks out with her, but then collapses and dies. Coster points out to Mike, who has accompanied him to the farm, that he has a "tough job" ahead of him to console the grieving Carol. Mike agrees, but believes that it is "not too late" and takes her away from the scene.