One man's fight against organized crime proves to have devastating consequences for himself and his loved ones in this drama from Italy. As a young man, Placido Rizzotto (Marcello Mazzarella) saw his father imprisoned by police for a crime he didn't commit, and as a teenager he had to contend with the brutal excesses of Mussolini's soldiers while fighting in World War II. These events have left Placido with little taste for petty tyranny and with a desire to promote social justice. Upon his return home from the war, Placido becomes increasingly aware that organized crime has taken hold of his village, and he becomes angry and frustrated as he sees Mafia leaders controlling local politics and taking whatever land or property they want. Placido helps to form a trade union as a challenge to the Mafia's authority, and attempts to organize the villagers into a collective to grow crops in the fields taken by gangsters from the people.