Owen Wister's 1902 novel was made into a movie several times, most notably in 1929, with Gary Cooper starring. This 1946 remake of the often-filmed saga gave Joel McCrea the title role as the standing-tall cowboy in Wyoming. The Virginian and his best friend Steve (Sonny Tufts) are rivals for the affections of Molly Wood (Barbara Britton), a schoolteacher who has migrated from the East and finds herself intimidated by the rough morality of the West. Steve is after a quick buck and hooks up with a nefarious cattle rustler, Trampas (Brian Donlevy). The Virginian warns his friend not to take up the life of crime, but to no avail. Much gunplay ensues.
by Michael Betzold synopsis