Inside the Polka saloon
After a day’s work, a group of Gold Rush miners enter the Polka saloon, owned by a young woman named Minnie.
Agent Ashby reveals that he is chasing the bandit Ramerrez and his gang. Sheriff Rance toasts Minnie as his future wife, which makes another man jealous. The two fight and are interrupted by Minnie, standing at the bar with a rifle.
Minnie rejects the Sheriff, as she is waiting for the right man.
A stranger enters the saloon and introduces himself as Dick Johnson. Minnie dances with Dick; the Sheriff watches angrily.
Ashby returns with a captured Ramerrez gang member; upon seeing Johnson at the bar, he leads the agent on a wild goose chase to find Ramerrez.
Minnie and Johnson confess their love for one another. Johnson promises he will return.
Johnson enters Minnie’s cabin, the couple kiss and talk about their lives. Hearing a noise outside, Johnson hides. A posse enters looking for Ramerrez. They reveal to Minnie that Johnson is the bandit himself!
Minnie orders him to leave. After he leaves, she hears him being shot at outside. She quickly ushers him into the house and hides him in the loft.
Sherriff Rance finds him in the house. Minnie desperately tries to stop him from taking him away by challenging Rance to a game of poker. If she beats him, he must let Johnson go free; if she loses, she will marry him. Minnie cheats at the game with hidden cards and wins.
The Great Californian Forest
Johnson has been captured by Rance after being on the run for some time. Johnson accepts his fate and asks him not to tell Minnie that he will be executed.
Minnie arrives, armed with a gun, and intervenes just before the execution by throwing her body in front of Johnson’s.
Minnie pleads with Rance and his men not to kill the man she loves, as each one of them already owes her too much. One by one the men yield, even Rance.
Johnson is set free. Minnie and Johnson leave to start a new life.