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In the Chicago nightclub the Golden Rooster, owned by mobster Rico Angelo, the mobster's henchman offers each show girl a hundred dollars to attend Rico's party that evening. Dancer Vicki Gaye scoffs at the invitation, but when her roommate, Joy Hampton, admits that she is returning to their apartment to wait for a call from her married boyfriend, Vicki decides to go to Rico's party. After receiving her hundred dollars, Vicki indifferently accompanies gangster Louis Canetto, who gives her four hundred dollars from his gambling winnings. Later in an effort to rid herself of Canetto, Vicki asks attorney Thomas Farrell to escort her home. Although Tommy uses a cane and has a pronounced limp, Vicki is startled when Canetto defers to him. During the drive home, Tommy cynically remarks about Vicki's accepting Canetto's money and reveals that he is defending Canetto against a murder charge. Back at her apartment, Vicki discovers that, despondent over her boyfriend's rejection, Joy has committed suicide. At the police station, Vicki is questioned when Joy's autopsy reveals she was pregnant, but she refuses to name Joy's boyfriend. Tommy then intervenes and takes the exhausted Vicki to his apartment to rest. The following day, Tommy asks Rico to increase Vicki's salary and provide her a better spot in the show, but not to mention his name. Several days later, Vicki visits Tommy at his office to thank him for helping with Joy's case, then asks him to return the money to Canetto. Tommy criticizes Vicki's gesture as an attempt to buy back her pride. Later that week, Vicki attends Canetto's trial to watch Tommy's closing argument. By playing up his limp, Tommy wins the sympathy of the jury and Canetto is acquitted. Vicki seeks Tommy out at a speakeasy afterward, to accuse him of hypocrisy and shameless manipulation for a price. Stung, Tommy nevertheless begins attending the Golden Rooster shows nightly, until Vicki at last agrees to see him. Tommy reveals that he suffered a childhood accident and the subsequent hip surgery healed improperly, leaving him bitter, yet hungry for respect, which he feels he has gained as the "mouthpiece" for Rico's mob. Tommy then confesses that he is married to a former show girl whom he loved deeply, until she rejected him because of his handicap. Over the next several months Vicki and Tommy begin dating seriously, until Rico summons Tommy to attend a late night gathering where Rico nearly beats to death a rival gangster. After Tommy stops the beating, he worries about how his association with the gangster might affect Vicki. Tommy and Vicki then visit a doctor who advises Tommy that with numerous surgeries by a New York specialist and a year of therapy, his hip might heal. Vicki is determined to help Tommy through the ordeal, but he departs for New York alone. Months later, after Tommy is nearly recovered, he summons Vicki and they take a long European trip together to celebrate. Returning to Chicago at Rico's request, Tommy is introduced by Rico to brash Cookie Lamot, who is under investigation by state attorney Jeffrey Stewart. Disgusted by Cookie's reputation as a ruthless, cold-blooded killer, Tommy advises him to leave Chicago, but refuses to represent him. When Rico threatens to disfigure Vicki if Tommy does not comply, Tommy reluctantly agrees. Some weeks later, during jury selection for Cookie's grand jury trial, Tommy is incensed when Lou Forbes, another of Rico's attorneys, checks up on him. Later, however, Rico tells Tommy that Cookie has jumped bail and crossed the state line. Although Tommy tells Rico to handle the situation himself, he follows Cookie to Indiana. At a small café, Cookie tells Tommy that he is tired of the lengthy delay caused by legal maneuverings and plans to kill Stewart. Moments later, Cookie and his henchmen are machine gunned down. In Chicago, Vicki anxiously hears a report about Cookie's murder over the radio and the subsequent mob killings all over Chicago as Rico's men do away with rest of Cookie's gang. When Tommy returns unharmed, Stewart announces that he will seek an indictment against anyone connected with Rico and, soon after, Tommy and Vicki are arrested. To insure Tommy's silence, Rico has Vicki bailed out and taken to the Golden Rooster. Stewart attempts to bully Tommy into informing on Rico, but Tommy refuses, even after Stewart arranges for him to visit Vicki. After Tommy tells her that his wife has offered to divorce him, Vicki vows to wait for him. On New Year's Eve at the Golden Rooster, Canetto visits Vicki backstage and offers to protect her from Rico. Realizing that Rico is using her against Tommy, Vicki contacts Stewart and asks to see Tommy alone. During a meeting in a private apartment, Vicki pleads with Tommy to confess to Stewart and mentions Canetto's visit. Although disturbed, Tommy still refuses to cooperate. Frustrated, Stewart then tells Tommy that he is being released, knowing that Rico will assume Tommy has struck a deal. Tommy demands protection for Vicki, then agrees to talk. Stewart has his men escort Vicki to a train to the west coast, but moments after they disembark, Vicki is kidnapped by Canetto. After Tommy gives a full description of Rico's activities, he visits all his usual haunts, making himself conspicuous and is soon picked up by Rico's men. Rico demands that Tommy recant his confession, then brings out Vicki and threatens to disfigure her with a jar of acid. Having alerted the police to his location, Tommy uses his courtroom skills to stall Rico. When the police arrive and begin shooting it out with Rico's men, Canetto attempts to attack Vicki, but is killed by gunfire. Rico and Tommy fight, but when Rico attempts to hurl the acid at Vicki, the bottle breaks and, blinded by pain, Rico tumbles from the second story window to his death.