Ben Harper (Graves) has committed murder for $10,000. He hides the money and makes daughter Pearl (Bruce) and son John (Chapin) promise not to tell anyone where it is hidden, not even their mother Willa (Winters). In prison and awaiting hanging, Ben meets his cellmate, the Preacher (Mitchum), who tries unsuccessfully to get Ben to reveal where he stashed the money. When Preacher is released from prison he heads for the Harper home, intent on finding the money. Preacher charms Willa and wins her hand in marriage, only to kill her when she learns what he is really like. With only Pearl and John separating him from a small fortune, the Preacher unleashes the full force of his true, evil self.
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