An infamous gangster changes his face and tries to become an actor in the movies; but he is identified.
Muggsy (Frank Mills) takes Broken-Nose Dawson (Brian Donlevy) to Dr. Buler (Oscar Apfel) to change his face. Dr. Buler keeps his nurse Mary (Molly Lamont) from calling the police, but she goes to Los Angeles. Dawson calls the police to pick up Muggsy, who pulls a gun and is killed by the police. Dawson takes a train to Los Angeles and applies for acting jobs in the movies as Dutrose, getting a part as a gangster. Publicity man Joe Haynes (Wallace Ford) is warned by general manager Charles Keller (Alan Hale), because the police complained. Dawson rehearses a scene badly. Joe learns that western star Tex (Addison Randall) is marrying the nurse Mary. In a take Dutrose hugs Sheila Barry (Phyllis Brooks) roughly. Joe offers Dutrose publicity. Joe calls on Sheila and asks her to marry; she says she loves him.
Mary sees a photo of Dutrose and tells Joe he is the killer Dawson. Joe puts Mary in the closet as Dutrose offers Joe money for publicity. Joe tells Keller about Dawson, and they plan to finish the picture with Dawson before having him arrested. Tex asks Joe where Mary is, but Joe sends him to Pasadena. Joe takes Dawson to a party at Sheila's beach home. Sheila tells her mother she is getting married. Keller arrives and asks Sheila to work, though she is reluctant because of her wedding.
The director prepares the set. Joe calls the police riot squad and lets Mary out of the closet. When Mary complains, he puts her back. Police restrain Tex from attacking Joe, but Tex tells them Mary is missing. Mary gets out and tells the police that Broken-Nose Dawson is there. Joe and Keller have guns and plan to film the capture. During the scene the police arrest Joe for kidnapping. Keller gives Sheila a blackjack to hit Dawson in the scene. Joe escapes from the police car. Sheila hits Dawson in the head. Mary points him out, and Dawson shoots at her. He grabs Sheila, and they go out. The police catch Joe. In her dressing-room Sheila says Dawson ran off; but he holds a gun on her. Dawson tells Joe to take him out in his car with Sheila. Joe pushes Sheila out a door and fights Dawson; then Joe runs away. Dawson runs out of bullets but chokes Joe in the rafters. Police use tear gas and arrest Dawson. Joe is cleared and will now marry Sheila.
This amusing story satirizes Hollywood's gangster movies by showing the disparity between movie images and a real gangster. A studio executive and publicity agent even risk people's lives in order to make a successful gangster film, as Joe puts his work before his marriage.