powered by AFI
In 1880, Curly Bogard hires cowboy Tom Bigby to be a part of his cattle rustling gang, then sends him to see Dr. Fawcett about his bad cough. The doctor recognizes Tom's cough as a symptom of prison life and tells his daughter Mary, with whom Tom had been flirting, his findings. Before moving to Curly's ranch, Tom checks in with lawyer James Dowling and informs him that, while serving six months in jail on phony charges, he learned from his prison cellmate, Blackie, that Curly Bogard was connected to his rancher father's recent murder. Determined to find his father's killer, who he suspects is the man behind the rustling gang, Tom ingratiates himself with Curly, impressing the rustler with his riding and shooting skills. Then, to be close to Mary, who has since snubbed him, Tom agrees to judge a baby show in which she is involved. After Tom has viewed all of the babies in the show, which offers a one-hundred-dollar prize to the parents of the cutest baby, a man rushes in to enter an abandoned baby boy in the contest. Immediately taken with the toddler, Tom announces to the crowd that he is adopting the child and awards himself the prize money. Tom is chased by the marshal and a group of angry, gun-toting parents and returns to Curly's with the baby. Curly at first rejects the boy, but when the child inadvertently executes a spoon trick that Curly has been trying to perform for years, he embraces him as his own. While Curly and banker Rankin, the true head of the operation, plot their next raid, Tom breaks into Curly's safe to procure evidence of their illegal activities. As Rankin and Curly argue about Tom's assignment, Blackie, who has escaped from jail, arrives and reveals Tom's identity to the rustlers. Tom is apprehended, but eventually overwhelms his captors in a fierce fight and forces a confession of murder out of Rankin. Although a reformed Curly gives himself up, he is shot by one of his men while trying to protect Tom. Following a pursuit by Curly's men, Tom turns Rankin and the evidence over to the marshal, then rushes Curly to Dr. Fawcett's house, where he dies a short time later. Encouraged by her father, Mary agrees to become the baby's adopted mother and Tom's wife.