Adapted from a book by warden Lewis E. Lawes, a parolee tries to go straight and keep his brother out of crime but succumbs to bank robbery.
As they leave, the Sing Sing Warden (Moroni Olsen) has faith in Cliff Taylor (George Raft) but none in Chuck Martin (Humphrey Bogart). Chuck says the stripes are still there. Cliff goes home to Mom (Flora Robson), who cries. Chuck's brother Tim Taylor (William Holden) still hasn't married Peggy (Jane Bryan). Sue (Margot Stevenson) tells Cliff she can't marry a convict. Ed Kruger (Paul Kelly) lets Chuck back in the gang if he'll forgive Lefty (Marc Lawrence). Chuck loses his job where Tim works, because he is not allowed to drive. Chuck gets a job loading, is provoked into a fight, and is fired. Chuck is offered a job as an informant and socks the man. Parole officer Masters (Henry O'Neill) warns Cliff, who declines an invitation from Chuck and Molly (Lee Patrick). Tim is insulted when a rich man tries to buy the violets he gave Peggy. She suggests marrying, but Tim is angry. Cliff warns Tim not to steal. Cliff gets hired as a stock-boy and works up to clerk.
Cliff dances with Mom and goes home early but is arrested for robbery. Tim tells Mom he couldn't raise bail, socked his boss, and lost his job. After two days police release Cliff. Tim stays out all night and tells Cliff he rolled a drunk for $6. Cliff locks the door, and they fight. Cliff advises honest work; but he goes to Chuck, and they rob banks. Cliff told Tim he is selling tractors, helping Tim to buy a garage and marry Peggy. Cliff tells Chuck, Ed, and the gang he is quitting. Lefty complains, and Cliff hits him; but Chuck lets Cliff go. The gang's next robbery goes badly with much shooting. Chuck's car hides in Tim's garage. Chuck tells Tim that Cliff has been robbing, and Tim helps wounded Chuck escape to Molly. Police arrest Tim. Molly calls Cliff to help Chuck, who says that Tim must not talk and will get only two years. Cliff doesn't want Tim to be a dirty con and makes a deal with the police if Tim will talk, and Tim identifies the photos of the gang. Cliff tells Mom and Peggy that Tim is not in trouble. Cliff gets a cab for Chuck; but the gang shoots Chuck, and Chuck shoots Johnny. Chuck dies. Police arrive as Lefty shoots Cliff. Then police shoot Lefty and Ed. In the final scene Tim shows Peggy his improved garage of the Taylor Brothers, telling the local policeman that Cliff is a silent partner.
This gangster drama shows the difficulty an ex-con can
have getting a good job; but despite Cliff's efforts to keep his
brother honest, he falls himself into violent bank robbery that
proves to be a dead end for the criminals.