After years of unemployment, John Phillips (Humphrey Bogart) finally lands a job. He's on top of the world, until he runs into James O'Malley (Pat O'Brien), a by-the-book cop so rigid he calls his loving ma a litterer for feeding the birds. O'Malley cites Phillips for a busted muffler, although he knows it will lose the man his job. Soon the desperate Phillips loses his freedom as well when he robs a pawnshop and lands in the slammer. But when O'Malley meets Phillips' crippled daughter (the Warner studio's Shirley Temple-like tot Sybil Jason), he begins to realize he should temper justice with mercy. A new man, O'Malley falls for Barbara's lovely teacher (Ann Sheridan) while he strives to undo the wrong he's done to the moppet's dad. Directed by William Dieterle (The Life of Emile Zola), this quintessential Depression-era blend of grit and sentiment marks the second of four films Bogart and O'Brien made together.