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At the Delta Tire Company, general manager F. L. Rennick and Lt. White discuss how best to catch local loan sharks, headed by Lou Donelli, who lure plant employees into gambling and then beat them up when they cannot repay their loans. At the same time that employee Ed Haines and his friends speculate about who among them is responsible for leading new workers to the loan sharks, his wife Martha "Marty" Haines is visited by her brother, ex-boxer Joe Gargen. Joe, who was unfairly indicted after a man he was fighting fell and died from a head injury, has just finished his three-year prison term. Joe is taken by the beauty of neighbor Anne Nelson, Rennick's secretary, who visits and announces that she has set up a job interview for him at Delta. That night, dinner is interrupted when neighbor Steve Casmer returns home bloodied by a loan shark goon. Against Joe's advice, Steve and Ed plan to organize the plant workers against the loan sharks. Later, Joe bumps into Anne downstairs and kisses her, but is chagrined to see a man enter her apartment. At Joe's interview the next afternoon, Rennick asks him to work undercover to identify the plant's loan shark spy, but Joe, who wants to live a straight life, refuses. He is relieved to learn, however, that the man in Anne's apartment is her brother Paul. Meanwhile, Ed gathers information from his coworkers which suggests that section boss Charlie Thompson is the informant. When Ed confronts his boss, Thompson places a call and Ed then is murdered. As soon as Joe hears about Ed's death, he returns to Rennick and offers to catch the killers, as long as he can do it his own way. Over the next weeks, Joe works undercover in different areas of the plant. Although he becomes friendly with the workers, some spurn him when, in order to make the crooks trust him, he pretends to be nonchalant about Ed's murder. Soon, Thompson introduces him to Donelli, and Joe begins to lose money gambling, while at the same time courting Anne. When a goon tries to beat him up, Joe wins the fight easily and is summoned to see Donelli, who offers him a job "making collections." Marty, Anne and his coworkers discover his new job, and Joe is forced to accept their anger in order to safeguard his scheme. He soon meets the loan sharks's bookkeeper, Walter Karr, and the boss, Vince Phillips. In order to gain more power and move closer to the real boss, Joe suggests a scam in which a fake laundry business will serve as a front to "loan" money to housewives. Within months, the business venture is a success and Joe demands twenty-five percent of the profits. Although Donelli grows more suspicious of Joe, Phillips trusts him more, and admits that Donelli ordered Charlie to kill Ed. Marty denounces Joe and moves in with Anne, who now refuses to speak to him. Although he wants to quit, Joe is determined to catch Ed's murderer, and so when Phillips tests his loyalty by ordering him to beat up Paul, Joe does so. Hearing that Anne plans to turn Joe in to the police, Marty races to talk to him. Donelli listens through the office intercom as Joe turns Marty away and then calls Rennick to ask for help in fingering Phillips. Donelli pulls a gun on Joe, but Joe beats him up. He then visits Phillips and demands $50,000 in exchange for records of their business transactions. When Phillips reluctantly brings Joe to his boss, Joe is shocked to see Karr. Karr pulls a gun on Joe and both he and Phillips chase Joe through his offices above an old theater. While hiding in the box seats, Joe manages to shoot first Phillips and then Karr. At the police station, Rennick thanks Joe by bringing in Anne, who kisses him, now aware of how much he has sacrificed.