Winchester '73 is an American Western movie released by Universal Pictures in 1950. It stars James Stewart and is the first of eight collaborations between Stewart and director Anthony Mann. This movie also features early roles for Rock Hudson, Tony Curtis, and James Best.
In 1876, Lin McAdam (James Stewart) and friend 'High Spade' (Millard Mitchell) pursue outlaw 'Dutch Henry' Brown (Stephen McNally) into Dodge City. Sheriff Wyatt Earp (Will Geer) enforces the peace without exception however, so Lin can't do anything. Instead, he enters a shooting competition, contending against Dutch Henry among others. They end up the two finalists for a prized, one-in-a-thousand, perfect Winchester rifle. Lin wins, but Dutch Henry steals the prize and leaves town with Lin in hot pursuit.
Meanwhile, the rifle changes hands several times and adversely affects the lives of those who hold or seek it, usually with fatal consequences. Dutch Henry is forced to barter away his rifle to trader Joe Lamont (John McIntire), who then runs guns to the Indians. Their leader (Rock Hudson) doesn't like the old, worn-out merchandise Lamont is offering; he wants the Winchester. When Lamont refuses to sell, he pays the ultimate price for his stupidity.
The rifle next falls into the possession of Steve Miller (Charles Drake). He's running with Dutch Henry's gang, much to the disapproval of his girl, Lola Manners (Shelley Winters). Gunfighter 'Waco' Johnnie Dean (Dan Duryea) covets it. He keeps insulting Miller in front of Lola, until finally he snaps and draws on him, though he knows he's no match for the professional. Waco kills him and takes possession, but not for long. Dutch Henry shows up and takes back "his" rifle.
Dutch Henry plans a robbery. Waco is stationed in a saloon to provide protection, but is betrayed to Lin by Lola. The theft goes awry; Lin chases Dutch Henry out of town and corners him on a rocky hill. Before he leaves town, High Spade reveals to Lola that Henry's real name is Matthew, the no-good brother of Lin. Matthew killed their father when he wouldn't go along with his crimes. Lin finally kills Dutch Henry and gets Lola and his prize rifle back in the end.