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In 1938 Wilkie, a dishonest turf accountant, rules Kennedy Street in the London slums. Anxious for her children to escape poverty, Jess persuades her son Tommy to work for Wilkie and attempts to marry her daughter Hetty to the petty criminal. When Hetty decides to leave home, Jess plies the girl with drink and panders for Wilkie. Having seduced Hetty, Wilkie freely humiliates her before his former mistresses. Forced to murder in the course of his employment, Tommy flees to his home, where he is shot by Hetty. As the ambulance pulls away, Hetty confronts Wilkie. In the street Jess lies screaming.