Sky Full of Moon gets under way when Vegas gambling-joint owner Al (Keenan Wynn) rescues rodeo rider Harley Williams (Carleton Carpenter) from drowning. Harley is then "adopted" as a good-luck charm by Al's change girl Dixie Delmar (Jan Sterling). When their lucky gambling streak comes to an end, so too does Harley and Dixie's romantic relationship. Though he practically has to have the moon fall on his head, Harley finally realizes that he's too naïve for life in the Fast Lane. The film's title derives from a line of dialogue delivered by Harley during his clumsy courtship of the hard-bitten Dixie.
When he sustains a rodeo injury, star rider Jeff McCloud returns to his hometown after many years of absence. He signs on as a hired hand with a local ranch, where he befriends fellow ranch hand Wes and his wife Louise. Wes has big dreams of owning his own little farm, and rodeo winnings could help finance it. Wes convinces Jeff to coach him in the rodeo ways, but Louise has her doubts. She doesn't want her man to end up a broken down rodeo bum like Jeff McCloud. Despite Louise's concern, the threesome hit the road in their Woody, chucking a secure present for an unknown future. Will they find success or sorrow? This picture features plenty of rodeo action and thrills.
The titular Lusty Men are rodeo riders in this modern-day western, assembled with a touch of the offbeat by director Nicholas Ray. Former rodeo star Robert Mitchum, disabled by a series of accidents, hobbles back to his Oklahoma hometown in hopes of replenishing his bank account. Aspiring bronco-buster Arthur Kennedy hires Mitchum to train him for an upcoming rodeo, promising that they'll split the winnings. It doesn't take a crystal ball to predict that Mitchum will soon fall hard for Kennedy's wife Susan Hayward; she can take Mitchum or leave him, but decides to take him so that he'll continue to train Kennedy. After a falling out, Mitchum quits his job and enters the rodeo himself, hoping to win the prize from the arrogant Kennedy. He proves he still has what it takes, but does so at the price of his life. The Lusty Men was co-adapted by one-time cowboy David Dotort from a Life magazine story by Claude Stannish.