Allan McGrath, editor of the Star-Dispatch ,
is having dinner with a group of newspapermen, when one complains
of "tight shoes," prompting Alan to tell them the story of Jimmy
Rupert and Speedy Miller. With election time rolling around, the
district attorney had gone after New York's gambling houses, but
he was unable to find the den of Speedy Miller, and therefore, was
unable to uncover the political boss known only as "The Brain,"
who protects Speedy.
The Brain tells Speedy that he must set up
more games in his district, in order to make up for their losses
in other areas. Speedy is then given $5,000 to bet on a fixed
horse race. Speedy and his hoods, Blooch and Okay, go to Amalfi's
shoe store, where they force the proprietor to sell out, as they
plan to make the store the "front" for their new gambling house.
Before they leave, however, Blooch ruins Speedy's shoes, and when
he forces clerk Jimmy Rupert to serve him, the two argue over
Speedy's shoe size.
Jimmy later complains to his girl
friend Ruth (Anne Gwynne) that even though he is a college graduate, he makes so
little money they cannot get married. At the race track, Speedy,
who is now suffering from "tight shoes," bets on a long shot hunch
named Feet First instead of sure thing Pam's Mam, and loses all
his money when Feet First is disqualified. His girl friend, show
girl Sybil Ash, becomes so upset that she kicks him, and he
punches her in the jaw in return. Speedy blames his loses on Jimmy
and orders him fired from Amalfi's.
Jimmy then complains to Ruth
about the crooked politicians like "Honest John" Beebe, who allow
men like Speedy to run the city. McGrath overhears Jimmy and takes
him to one of Beebe's political rallies. At the rally, Jimmy
challenges the crooked politician and ends up leading a raid on Amalfi's. A riot breaks out, and Sybil and Ruth are arrested in
the midst of the madness. With the help of McGrath and the
district attorney, Jimmy is nominated to run against Beebe.
Unknown to McGrath, this is contrary to the desires of his boss,
Horace Grover, the managing editor of his paper, who is, in
actuality, The Brain.
Later, Jimmy is met at his home by a group
of reporters, and Ruth and Sybil are present as well. When Sybil
learns that Jimmy is the one who sold Speedy his "tight shoes,"
she offers him her full support. While Grover blocks McGrath's
efforts, Sybil's work on the young man's behalf turns the
election. Jimmy's success soon goes to his head, but he still
proclaims his love to Ruth. She, however, sees him turning toward
Sybil and Grover, and rejects him.
The now down-and-out Speedy
goes to Amalfi for help, and the retailer hires the ex-gangster as
a clerk. Jimmy and Sybil become engaged, and Amalfi orders Speedy
to take a pair of shoes to the new councilman for his wedding.
Speedy deliberately selects takes a pair of "tight shoes," the box
for which Ruth assumes is a bomb. When Sybil sees Speedy at the
church, she asks him to give her away and he agrees. After he
delivers the shoes, however,
Speedy is knocked out by Ruth, who
explains to Sybil her conviction about the "bomb." The two women
start fighting, with Jimmy in the middle. After Sybil strikes both
Ruth and Jimmy, he throws her into a flower arrangement. Speedy
then awakens, but before he can strike Jimmy, he is stopped by
Grover, whom he exposes as The Brain. While Grover exits with the
district attorney, the two couples begin fighting, and eventually
become reunited and married as originally intended.