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Johnny Barnes, a youthful San Francisco longshoreman, is asking for trouble when he beats up Bill Cassidy, a crooked politician who has been annoying Johnny's girl, Kitty Tracy. Later that night, Cassidy is found murdered, and Johnny is arrested for the crime. Although Kitty, her father, Admiral Andy, and Father Mike Cameron, the waterfront priest, believe that Johnny is innocent, all evidence points to his guilt. Johnny's alibi that he was at Pier Seven watching a tugboat being repaired is discredited by the police when they prove that the pier has been long closed. Following a clue discovered by Admiral Andy, Kitty finds the boat and its captain, Bob Collins, who refuses to testify. Collins refuses to talk because on the night of the murder, he had damaged his boat while helping convicted criminal Monte March escape from Alcatraz Prison. March, the real killer, is hiding out in an apartment rented by his blonde wife Frances Claire. Desperate, Johnny breaks out of prison and is preparing to leave the country when Kitty finds him and insists on going with him. To prevent her from being implicated, Johnny surrenders to the police and, after a quick trial, is sentenced to death. Refusing to give up hope, Kitty and Admiral Andy tail Frances to a beauty parlor and follow her to the apartment where, after an extended battle, Kitty captures Frances and Johnny's waterfront pals overpower March and force him to confess. Thus exonerated of all guilt, Johnny returns home and is welcomed with a celebration in his honor.