On his family's plantation, Sam Francis Gifford (Robert Wagner) is a pretentious man who's unsympathetic to the less fortunate. But when World War II strikes, Gifford finds his inherited wealth does nothing to improve his rank in his National Guard unit. As the horrors of war and camaraderie with his fellow soldiers affect him, Gifford's attitude begins to shift toward egalitarianism. Still, Gifford's new outlook causes him to clash with the unstable Capt. "Waco" Grimes (Broderick Crawford).