A group of career criminals including Dix Handley (Sterling Hayden) is pulled together by a criminal mastermind Doc Riedenschneider (Sam Jaffe) for a jewel heist and their contact for fencing the stolen goods is a corrupt lawyer Alonzo Emmerich (Louis Calhern) who plans to take the stolen take and escape to Europe. The plan is put into place, but Doc Riedenschneider has heard a rumor that Emmerich is up to no good, and asks Dix to help him insure that they collect their money from the lawyer. The robbery is completed but not without one of the crew, Louis (Anthony Caruso) getting shot by an armed guard. Dix and Doc Riedenschneider take the jewels to Emmerich where Dix kills a Private Detective Bob Brannom (Brad Dexter) that the lawyer has brought in for protection. Doc convinces Emmerich that the police will arrest him unless he goes to the insurance company and offers to sell back the jewels and gets the money to him and Dix. Dix himself is shot in the exchange with Emmerich and gets progressively weaker as he and Doc get away. When the police confront Emmerich he fatally shoots himself. Dix convinces the Doc to take some money and escape because he plans to go back to Kentucky, his home state to get away from the police. Doc stops to look at a young girl dance and is caught by the police before he escapes. Dix drives with Doll (Jean Hagen) back to his home but dies before Doll can get him to turn himself in to the police.