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Arthur Ferguson Jones is late for his job as an advertising clerk for the first time in his life, just as he was about to be given a raise in salary by his bosses, Seaver and J. G. Carpenter. While Jones's contrition enables him to retain his position, the unrepetant attitude of another late employee, Wilhemina "Bill" Clark, the object of Jones's unspoken love, causes her to be fired. She points out to the staff the resemblance between a picture in the newspaper of the escaped convict "Killer" Manion and Jones. While Jones lunches at a restaurant, the obsequious Hoyt also notices the similarity and turns Jones over to the police in expectation of a reward. Seaver establishes Jones's identity, but to protect him from another mistaken arrest, he is given a special passport to show wary policemen. Back at the office, "J. G." encourages Jones, an aspiring writer, to sign a deal with newspaperman Healy to author a special serial on his own appraisal of Manion. The three men get drunk together, and Jones later kisses the thrilled Clark and orders Seaver to put her back on the payroll. However, Manion waits for Jones at his apartment and demands the use of the passport at night to protect him during criminal undertakings. Although for the first time in Jones's life everyone is deferential toward him, and Clark affectionately asserts control over his career, Jones lives in perpetual fear of Manion. The publicity-seeking criminal demands that Jones's newspaper series be turned into his reminiscences, which raises the suspicion of authorities. Clark innocently visits Jones's apartment and does not recognize Manion until it is too late. The district attorney orders that Jones be placed under protective custody in prison, but Manion takes Jones's place to kill fellow gangster, "Slugs" Martin, who turned stool pigeon on him. After the murder of Martin and the release of the supposed Jones, the disappearance of Seaver and Clark tips off authorities to the true state of affairs. Manion plans to have Jones killed in a police ambush to convince them that Manion is dead. However, Jones forgets his wallet and returns prematurely to the hideout while Manion is with a girl friend. The gangsters unintentionally reveal to Jones his fate, and when Manion returns, Jones, who had passed up an earlier opportunity to murder Manion, accepts their offer to shoot the man they believe is Jones but is really Manion. Jones then grabs a machine gun, locks up the criminals, and frees their prisoners, Seaver, Clark, and Jones's nagging Aunt Agatha. Meanwhile the persistent Hoyt, still trailing Jones in the belief that he is Manion, has summoned the police just in time. Jones and Clark marry and take his long hoped-for trip to Shanghai.