The tale is set in Nome, Alaska in 1900, during the height of the Gold Rush. John Wayne is Glennister, the co-owner of a big mine. Randolph Scott is McNamara, the dishonest gold commissioner--he's in charge of filing claims on mines, but manipulates the records to gain ownership of rich strikes for himself.
It's fun to see Scott--who played heroes through most of his career--doing an effective job of playing a suave but still physically imposing villain.
I love the look of the film as well. It might have been tempting to simply use an Old West set and tell us "This is Alaska." But though there is an Old West vibe (perfectly appropriate, as 1900 Alaska was still very much a frontier), the town gives us a real sense of being way up north. Little touches, such as the thick mud streets with an occasional path of two-by-fours laid across from one building to another, all add up to give the film a real sense of atmosphere.
The same year they made The Spoilers, Wayne, Randolph and Miss Dietrich also starred in a movie called Pittsburgh, which also had a great Wayne/Scott fist fight. The two men went on to both have truly iconic careers, but I think they could have made good livings just beating the snot out of each other one film. They were awfully good at it.