Motion picture actor George Raft flies from Hollywood to New York
with his old friend and aide, Mack "Killer" Gray. George decides
to take a walk on the streets of Broadway, where he discovers that
"The Paradise," an old nightclub where he once worked, is about to
be converted into a bowling alley. He then reminisces with the
night watchman about the days of prohibition, when he was a dancer
at the club:
On the night of the Jack Dempsey-Gene Tunney fight in
1926, George's dance partner, Billie Moore, is nearly fired from
the club for missing a rehearsal, but her current boyfriend,
gangster Steve Crandall, fixes things for her with the nightclub's
owner, Nick. George asks Steve to leave Billie alone, and the two
men show mutual disdain for each other's career.
Later that day,
Steve murders rival bootlegger Jim "Scar" Edwards in the
nightclub's office, only to have homicide detective Dan Alyosius
McCorn arrive at the club that night and question him about
Edwards' disappearance. Backstage, Dan recognizes chorus girl
Pearl (Anne Gwynne) as the murdered gangster's fiancée, though she is unaware of
Scar's death until she overhears Steve bragging about it to a
group of out-of-town gangsters.
That night, Steve has a party for
gangster boss Rinalti, and Billie breaks her date with George to
attend. The drunken Rinalti and Steve nearly come to blows over
Billie, after which Steve tells Billie that "she is his girl."
Although Billie then warns George to stay away from Steve, he
confronts the gangster anyway. Steve is about to shoot George when
his henchman, Porky, warns him that Dan is about to enter the
Steve then hands the gun to George, and the two gangsters
tell the detective that George was attempting to rob them. Despite
the gangsters' interference, Dan gets George safely out of the
nightclub, taking Steve's gun, the same one used to kill Scar,
with him. After bringing George to the morgue to see Scar's body,
the police question George about the gun and the murder.
George is allowed to escape by Dan, and he returns to the
nightclub to learn that Nick and aging singer Lillian "Lil" Rice
have gotten married. Steve then agrees to perform that night if he
and Billie are finally allowed to perform their "specialty"
number, a tango, which becomes a big hit. Thinking that George has
"squealed," Steve plans to ambush the dancer, but George is
alerted by Nick.
George then confronts Steve in his office, and
after the gangster confesses all, the two men begin to fight. They
are interrupted, however, by Pearl, who shoots and kills Steve.
After rushing Pearl out of the room, George is confronted by Dan,
and he tells the policeman that Steve was already dead when he
entered the room. Knowing the truth, Dan tells the gangsters that
Steve committed suicide and orders his gang to leave the nightclub
Back in the abandoned nightclub, George tells the
watchman that Pearl confessed to the murder the next day, served
her prison term, and is now living quietly in Albany. Dan became
the police commissioner of New York and married cigarette girl
Mary. George and Billie, however, never got married, as he "never
got the chance." George then walks out the old nightclub and back
onto the streets of Broadway.