Cast & Crew
In the East, small-time swindler Lefty Lewis gets good news in a telegram and gives up selling books on a street corner. In the north, another swindler, "Deacon" Davis, is about to be thrown out by his landlady when he also receives good news in a telegram. In the West, gambler Wise Willie receives his telegram, while in the South, gangster Joe Torelli, newly on the skids, gets the same telegram, requesting that he go to the Hotel Metropole in Central City. The telegram announces a meeting for mobsters from all over the country, which is being arranged by mobster "Doc" Rogers. Doc proposes to reorganize the mobsters so that they will experience the same prosperity they enjoyed under the rule of the late Big Mike Morgan. His theory is that as long as the government is sidetracked by the war, they will pay little attention to criminal activities. Doc plans to enlist Morgan's son Edward as a figurehead to rally the mobsters together. To this end, he sends Willie and Lefty to visit Eddie. Unknown to the mobsters, Eddie is a slow-witted, small-town grocery clerk at D. A. Canbey's general store. Lefty and Willie find Eddie at his home, and when they hear him telling D. A. that the sheriff will no longer complain after his recent delivery of pineapples, the gangsters assume the "pineapples" are bombs, and believe that Eddie has a district attorney in his pocket and has murdered the sheriff. Lefty and Willie are stunned by the "baby-faced killer," and inform him that he is inheriting his father's business. Although Eddie never knew his father, he and his cousin, Oliver Harrison, excitedly travel to meet Doc, who immediately recognizes Eddie as a rube incapable of fulfilling his plans. Instead, Doc makes Eddie and Ollie the president and vice-president of the Acme Protection Company, a legitimate insurance business Morgan had purchased as a cover. Although they never do any real work, Willie is made their sales associate so that he can watch over them, and Doc continually makes deposits into the company's account with protection money paid out by trucking businesses. Mobsters nationwide, meanwhile, believe that "Baby Face Morgan" has taken over mobland, and the fact that no one has ever seen him only enhances his deadly reputation. When Eddie reads a newspaper account that "Baby Face" has declared war on truckers, he fails to associate the name with himself, and decides to sell insurance policies to the trucking industry. Eddie's first client is Virginia Clark, who refuses to pay protection money to the mobsters, and has to be convinced that Eddie is not one of them. Eddie and Virginia fall in love, and when the mobsters blow up one of her trucks, Eddie immediately pays out on the claim. Word soon spreads that Acme protects against mobsters, and while Eddie's legitimate business thrives, the mobsters face defeat from the truckers, who now refuse to pay for protection, despite Torelli's brutal tactics to convince them otherwise. Eddie is soon writing out many checks for claims, and Ollie convinces him that he has to meet with Baby Face, and hires detective J. B. Brown to find the gangster. When Brown bills Eddie $500 and sends him a photo of himself, Eddie and Virginia think it is a cruel hoax, and go to Brown to complain. After Eddie and Virginia leave, Brown believes he has narrowly escaped death at the hands of Baby Face and his moll. While working undercover as truckers, Torelli's thugs find out that Acme is competing for the mobster's protection racket and go to confront the president of the company. Eddie, who is chilled because the heating is not functioning, believes that they are workmen and calmly states that he has been expecting them. The thugs are unnerved by Eddie's reserve, and flee after connecting his name with his face. Torelli is outraged when he learns that Baby Face has apparently double-crossed the mobsters, but Doc uses the information by insisting that Eddie pose as a mobster and intimidate the others, in order to save the trucking businesses and their families from further attack. Eddie pretends to be tough and after coldly shooting Ollie to death for voicing a protest, the mobsters are convinced that Baby Face is still working for them. However, Torelli's thugs find out that the shooting was faked and beat Ollie to learn Eddie's whereabouts. When Eddie discovers that Virginia has been kidnapped by the Torelli gang, he confronts Torelli at a "social club," and flies into a rage when he sees Torelli strike Virginia. A brawl erupts after Eddie attacks the mobster, and everyone is arrested. When Eddie is questioned, he falsely confesses to various crimes because he believes that Virginia has forsaken him. However, Doc confesses to the whole scheme, and Eddie and Virginia agree to marry after he is freed.