Based on Kenyon Nicholson's play, a taxi driver copes with hostility from others and himself while marrying a woman who wants him to change.
Buck Gerard (David Landau) orders his taxi drivers to wreck the competition and tells Pop Reilly (Guy Kibbee) to leave his corner. Reilly kills the truck-driver Gerard sent to smash his taxi and is sentenced to ten years. His daughter Sue Reilly (Loretta Young) learns that her father died. Matt Nolan (James Cagney) invites Sue to a meeting at which he urges the taxi drivers to fight back; but she speaks against fighting. Matt complains to Sue and urges her to slap him, which she does. He takes her to the movies, puts his arm around her, and kisses her. They place second in a dance contest, and he starts a fight. Sue says he won't change, and she won't see him again. Ruby (Leila Bennett) tells Sue not to quarrel with Matt. Sue is cool to him, but Matt kisses her and promises to stop picking fights. They dance, and he puts a ring on her finger. On the way to get the marriage license he almost gets into another fight.
On their wedding night at a nightclub Marie Costa (Dorothy Burgess) asks Sue to keep Matt away from Gerard. Matt is told that Gerard got Reilly's car smashed. As Matt and Sue are leaving, Gerard says he probably had to marry her. Matt hits Gerard, who pulls a knife and stabs Matt's brother Danny Nolan (Ray Cooke). Matt won't tell police who did the murder. Sue tells him not to brood about getting even. Marie pleads with Sue for $100 so that Gerard can take a ship; after hearing Matt's threat, Sue gives her the money. Matt orders a tombstone for his brother and discovers the money is gone. Sue lies about it; when Matt finds out she lied, she tells him where the money went. Sue holds a gun on Matt, but he takes it. She locks him in and gets to Gerard's apartment before Matt. Sue tells Marie to get Gerard away, and he hides in the closet. Matt breaks in and threatens to shoot Gerard through the door; but Marie stands in the way. The police arrive, and Sue turns in Matt for threatening Marie. Matt shoots through the door, but Gerard is found dead on the street after falling out the window. In the final scene Sue is moving out, but Matt comes in and kisses her.
Can the love of a woman soothe the fiery temper of a tough guy? Sue seems to have little success with Matt; but he can be kind at times, and there is hope he will learn to control himself in the future. The taxi war shows how fierce urban competition can be when money is at stake.