Fort Bravo is a Union prison camp run by a strict Captain Roper (William Holden). A pretty woman named Carla Forester (Eleanor Parker) shows up to help free the prisoners, especially Confederate Captain John Marsh (John Forsythe). Roper falls in love with her (and she with him), so he has an additional motive to recapture the escapees. He does just that, but on the way back to the fort, they are attacked by fierce Mescalero Indians who are hostile to both sides and trapped in a shallow exposed depression. Roper frees and arms his prisoners, but even then, it looks like the Indians will wipe them out. Bailey (John Lupton) escapes to call for help. One by one, they are killed, including Campbell (William Demarest), Young (William Campbell), and the American Indian guide. Marsh and Lieutenant Beecher (Richard Anderson) are wounded. The next morning, to try to save Carla, Roper makes it look like he is the only one left alive and walks out in plain view. He is wounded, but the cavalry comes to the rescue just in time. Roper thanks Bailey for coming with help, while Marsh dies after smiling at Bailey.
William Holden as Captain Roper
Eleanor Parker as Carla Forester
John Forsythe as Captain John Marsh
William Demarest as Campbell
William Campbell as Cabot Young
Polly Bergen as Alice Owens
Richard Anderson as Lieutenant Beecher
Carl Benton Reid as Colonel Owens
John Lupton as Bailey
At the time of the film's release, H.H.T. of The New York Times was unimpressed. While he found Sturges's direction full of "professional smoothness," he had many problems with Frank Fenton's "fuzzily defined" characters. The cast, he goes on, "seems confused throughout." Leonard Maltin disagrees, calling the film "well-executed" and awarding it three stars.
According to MGM records the film earned $1,525,000 in the US and Canada and $1,633,000 elsewhere, resulting in a profit of $104,000.