"I never killed a man who didn't try to kill me first." Rock Hudson portrays John Wesley Hardin in The Lawless Breed, an account of the outlaw's life, published after his release from prison in 1896. Abused by his stern preacher father, Wes leaves home hoping to make his way in the world and marry his fiancée (Mary Castle). His efforts lead to a fight in a gambling establishment where he kills a man in self-defense and is forced run from the law. When a group of men murder his fiancée, Wes is led to marry a local showgirl instead (Julia Adams), in hopes of continuing his luckless quest for a normal life. When he is finally imprisoned, it will be sixteen years before he sees his newly-born son who may be following in his father's footsteps.