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After a day of dangerous construction work on a New York high-rise, riveters Gunner Smith and Bucker Reilly relax together at a speakeasy. There Bucker, who is known for his guillibility with women, tricks the more sophisticated, mysogynistic Gunner into brawling with a stranger over Millie, a speakeasy regular. After Gunner is arrested and taken to night court, Bucker meets Millie's cohort Mary and, by deliberately spilling his beer into her lap, connives to accompany her to her nearby apartment. Unknown to Bucker, Mary is a sometime lover of Gunner's, and when Gunner telephones her from the courthouse to ask for a bail loan, she lies to Bucker that she needs money to help her poor, sick mother. Moved by Mary's calculated tears, Bucker gives her enough money for Gunner's bail and promises to return to see her the next day. Mary then brings Gunner back to her place, but soon antagonizes him with talk of commitment and marriage. The next evening, Bucker takes Mary to a movie and, convinced that she is "decent," proposes marriage and tells her about his $5,000 savings account. After accepting Bucker's proposal, Mary shows up at the construction site and runs into Gunner. Without revealing Bucker's name, Mary taunts the cynical Gunner with news of her promising engagement, but nevertheless agrees to go to Atlantic City with him that weekend. Moments later, Mary tells Bucker that her sick grandmother in New Orleans has died, and out of sympathy, Bucker gives her $300 for the train trip. Before Mary leaves the construction site with the money, however, Gunner shows up and is introduced to Mary. Gunner says nothing to Bucker about his conniving fiancée, but drinks heavily in Atlantic City and is angry and sullen with Mary. Finally Gunner reveals to friend Pinky Magoo that he is going to "show up" Mary by giving Bucker photographs of Mary and him enjoying the sites of Atlantic City. At the same time, Mary confides in Millie that she married Bucker before leaving New York and is concerned how the volatile Gunner will react when he hears the news. Back in New York, Gunner gives Bucker the incriminating photographs just before he learns about his marriage. Because Mary tells him that Gunner set her up in Atlantic City, Bucker, crazed with jealous fury, moves a support on the construction site so that Gunner will slip and fall. After the critically injured Gunner is rushed to the hospital, Mary accuses Bucker of attempted murder. At Gunner's hospital bedside, a heartsick Bucker tries to confess his deed, but Gunner refuses to listen and instead denounces Mary as a gold digging fraud. Then immediately after Gunner advises his friend to "swear off dames," Bucker starts to flirt with a nurse.