It’s Tulsa, Oklahoma at the start of the oil boom and Cherokee Lansing’s rancher father is killed in a fight with the Tanner Oil Company. Cherokee plans revenge by bringing in her own wells with the help of oil expert Brad Brady and childhood friend Jim Redbird. When the oil and the money start gushing in, both Brad and Jim want to protect the land but Cherokee has different ideas. What started out as revenge for her father’s death has turned into an obsession for wealth and power.
A sermon by Rev. John Burrows (Sterling Hayden),is interrupted as his wife, Jane (Peggy Webber),walks down the center aisle of the church. She feels she can not keep up with her husband’s ambition and sense of importance, and she commits suicide. In a grave-side rejection of religion, John blames his parishioners rather than himself. He runs of and wanders around the country. After being jailed as a vagrant, he ends up in the Bowery section of New York City. The head of a skid-row mission, “Doc’ Thorssen (Ludwig Donath’) and his blind daughter, Christine (Viveca Lindfors), take care of him and give him a job as a janitor.