In this deviation from the historical account, Capt. William Kidd (Charles Laughton) is already a clever, ruthless pirate when, in 1699, he tricks the king into commissioning him as escort for a treasure ship from India. He enlists a crew of pardoned cutthroats, including Orange Povey (John Carradine), a fellow Kidd once abandoned on a reef and hoped never to see again. Of course, Kidd's intentions are treacherous. But there's more to gunner Adam Mercy (Randolph Scott) than meets the eye.