A criminal who murdered a police officer is rehabilitated by brain surgery and becomes a humane person and an outstanding physician.
Slick Rawley (Ralph Bellamy) at night in a building triggers a burglar alarm and shoots at policemen.
At a desk a supervisor sees a newspaper with the headline that Slick Rawley vanished. Inspector Logan (Willard Robertson) says he will be picked up. He is going to let go the Russell dame and Gloves Baker, and they may lead them to him.
Slick sits at a desk, and Gloves Baker (Ward Bond) opens the door and lets in Peggy Russell (Isabel Jewell) who takes off her dark wig. Slick gets up, paces, and twirls his keys. Peggy says the paper said the cops don’t know where he is. He says that may mean they want him to stay put. He decides to flee and tells Peggy and Gloves that he is going alone. They see Logan out the window, and he looks back at the window. Slick gives Peggy some money and goes out the laundry chute. They hear the police knocking.
Slick goes out a back door and is chased by two policemen. He goes on a roof, and more police are alerted. Slick goes into a Medical College and gets away. He goes into a classroom and listens to Dr. Clifford Schuyler (Thurston Hall) lecture about criminals. He believes that some can be cured by brain surgery. His experiments on a dog and a monkey turned violent creatures into docile animals. By removing brain tumors he found that their behavior was changed. He says the law will not let him help a convicted criminal, but he believes it can be done. A bell ends the class, and Slick goes out.
Dr. Schuyler is reading at home, and Slick comes in a door and empties the bullets out of his pistol. Schuyler realizes he is Slick and says he cannot work on a fugitive from justice. Slick asks him to prove his theory to help thousands of guys. Slick says the law does not need to know. He asks if the doctor is confident it will work and urges him to try it on him. Slick says he will be caught and executed anyway. He asks also for plastic surgery so that he can evade the police. He hopes to become a useful citizen and asks for the break he gave a monkey and a dog.
Dr. Schuyler does the surgery and later asks Slick to remember his name. He says he cannot remember.
Schuyler tells his wife Margaret (Nana Bryant) that he cannot remember anything. He thinks shock may have set in. She thinks he may fool him. He suggests he try the polygraph in their house.
Schuyler tells Slick that he is only testing his blood pressure but asks him questions as he and Margaret look at the results on a graph. Slick’s answers show no emotional reaction when he denies ever having carried a gun before. When Schuyler tells him to pull the trigger, he has a sharp reaction. He says he would never use a gun to kill.
In another room Schuyler and Margaret discuss the case, and she says his cure may not be permanent. He asks her to let him live there so that they can give him a new character. He says his personality has been changed. He will tell him that he was in an automobile accident. She has doubts; but he says he could always turn him over to the police if he reverted at all. She consents.
In a restaurant Peggy tells Gloves that Slick said he would send for her, but four months have gone by. Gloves says he is sticking around. Logan comes in, and Gloves leaves. Logan sits down with Peggy and tells her that she will see her boyfriend again. He says they picked him up on Park Avenue. He tells her to get wise to him and offers her part of the reward if she talks. She says he would kill her if she squealed. She tells him to bring Slick over to her house and leaves him the bill for the meal. Logan sees Gloves in a phone booth.
Slick has a better looking face, and he tells Schuyler that he is all right now. He does not want to sponge off him. Schuyler says he is valuable to him so he can study his behavior. He asks him what he would like to do. He says he would like to study medicine, and Schuyler offers to get him a tutor.
Years pass, and Slick gets a diploma and becomes Dr. James Blake. Jim thanks Schuyler for his letter of recommendation to work in a prison. He is interested in criminal psychology and wants to help them.
At Belmore Island women prisoners line up to get shots from Dr. Blake. He tells a woman that she is normal, but he lets her off work for a few days. A guard sends in the women for inoculations. Blake gives each a shot in the arm. Peggy comes in and recognizes his voice. He tells her not to be nervous. He asks her to come in for an examination. She says she is getting out, and he says she can come to his office.
Peggy gets a visit from Gloves and tells him the doctor has a voice just like Slick. They plan to do something together when she gets out.
On the street Logan in a car invites Gloves to get in. He asks him how long he has been out. Gloves says he is a model citizen, and Logan gives him a cigar. Logan asks if he heard from Slick, and Gloves says he must have been knocked off.
At a polo match Judge Henry Treacher (Henry Kolker) joins the Schuylers and Blake. Henry says he read Blake’s article and says he does not go far enough. He invites him to come to his court and observe the criminals there.
In court Janet Haydon (Marian Marsh) is charged with stealing a gold bracelet when she faints. Henry adjourns court, and in his chambers Dr. Blake givers her some medicine. He asks when she ate last, and she says yesterday morning. She says her family are dead, and she has been sleeping in the subways. She lost her job as a secretary and could not get anything. Henry asks if she is guilty of the charge, and she admits it. She says she wanted to get arrested to have a place to sleep and eat. They give her toast and tea. They go aside, and Blake asks the judge to release her into his charge. He agrees and tells her. Blake and Janet leave together. By the elevator Logan looks at Blake and says he thought he was someone he was after.
Janet types in Blake’s office, and Peggy comes in to see him. Peggy goes in, and he says she looks better. He looks at her arm he inoculated and says it is healed. She says his voice really reminds her of someone she used to know. She says the law must have got him. He asks how she is doing, but she is having a hard time finding a job. He offers to give her some money, and she accepts it as a loan. He asks her to keep in touch.
In an apartment Peggy tells Gloves that he had a wad and gave her money. She suggests that they can rob his home.
Dr. Blake is dictating to Janet and says that is enough for tonight. It is six, and she says she has been working late too much. He looks at her eyes and gives her a watch. He helps her put it on and tells her to go home. She thanks him.
Outside the building Gloves sees her come out.
Gloves comes into Blake’s office and tells him to “shell out.” Blake empties his pockets and says he can have anything he has. Gloves say he does talk like Slick. Blake twirls his keys, and Gloves says he is Slick and says he is Gloves Baker. Blake slugs him, knocking him down. Then he has Gloves sit down and gives him water. Gloves says it is like old times and calls him Slick. Blake asks who Slick is. Gloves see he wrote an article on life after prison. Blake says Gloves belongs in prison, and Gloves takes a drink from a bottle. Blake asks if he ever tried working for a living. Gloves chokes and says you have to find a job first. He asks Blake to give him a chance. Blake asks if he can drive a car, and Gloves says he drove a taxi. Blake offers him a job driving for him, and he accepts.
Peggy is waiting, and Gloves comes in and tells her that he is Dr. Blake’s new chauffeur. He tells her no one is going to steal from the doctor. She asks what happened, and he goes out to do an errand for his boss.
Dr. Schuyler finds a book in his library and hands it to Gloves to give to Blake. Gloves mentions the name “Slick,” and Schuyler asks if he means Slick Rawley. He asks if Blake knows anything about it, and Schuyler tells him not to let him know. Gloves says he would do anything for him, and they shake hands.
In his office Janet tells Blake that he is to speak to the County Medical Board. He sees a newspaper and asks her what she wanted him to read. She says she was at the same concert, and they talk. He invites her to another concert and to have a sandwich.
Blake and Janet enjoy a concert and then dine with sandwiches. They go dancing, and he gives her a ring.
A newspaper reports that the Schuylers are going on a trip to Cuba, and Blake and Janet wave to them as the boat leaves. Margaret says they are a nice-looking couple.
Gloves drives the car, and Peggy comes to see Dr. Blake. She says she owes rent and can’t get her clothes. She says a friend has a job for her in Chicago. He asks how much her fare is and twirls his keys. She notices that and says it is $5,000. She says that is not a lot to Slick Rawley. She asks for that or else and threatens to turn him in. He says she has him mixed up with someone else and is trying to blackmail him. He tells her to get out and not come back, and she goes out. Janet comes in, and he asks her to get Gloves.
Gloves arrives, and Blake asks him who Slick Rawley is. Gloves says he used to know him, but he denies knowing Peggy Russell. Blake says she mentioned him and Slick. He asks why she called him Slick, and Gloves says he was knocked off. He asks if he is like Slick, but Gloves says he is not.
Gloves questions Peggy and warns her to stay away from his boss. She says he is Slick, and Gloves says Slick is dead. She agrees to cooperate, but he is worried she might turn him in.
Peggy visits the office of Logan and asks about the reward for Slick Rawley. He says it is $10,000. She wants it when they pick him up. He agrees, and she says he is on Park Avenue and is called James Blake. He says he made the same mistake. She says he must have got his face changed. He dismisses his habit with the keys. She is angry and stalks out. He calls Dr. Blake who agrees to meet him at five.
Dr. Blake looks at a patient and tells Logan he is a genuine case. Blake says he can call on him at any time. Logan calls in an expert and they examine his fingerprints. The expert says the two prints of Rawley and Blake are identical.
Logan asks Gloves how he got the job with Blake. He says Peggy met him and said he was a nice guy. Logan asks about his voice and whether it sounded like someone he knew. Gloves says no.
Gloves sends a message to Dr. Schuyler to come back as soon as possible. In a car Gloves tells how Logan questioned him, and he says Blake has a hunch.
Blake asks Schuyler to tell him about his past. He says there was no record of an automobile accident. He asks for the truth. Schuyler says he has always been Blake; but he cannot remember anything before he met Schuyler, and he demands to know who he is. Schuyler tells him to sit down and starts to tell him the whole story.
Logan asks for his car and says he is going to pick up a man he has been after for ten years.
Schuyler tells Blake that he knows the rest. When Gloves cabled him, he came back. Blake says he must pay Rawley’s debt. They hear a knock, and Logan comes in. Blake tells him that he is ready, and they go out together.
Newspapers report the story of the doctor who is charged with murder.
Janet talks to Blake in jail and says Judge Treacher resigned from the bench so that he can defend him. She says she will always love him.
Gloves sees a newspaper that says he and Peggy will testify. He also got a telegram that says his mother died.
Peggy comes out, and Gloves offers her a ride. He asks if she got a subpoena too. She says everybody knows he is Slick now. He says they should not talk. She admits she used to be crazy about him, but that was a long time ago. He offers to get her money, but she asks for a lot. He accuses her of turning him in for the reward. He gets angry and drives faster and faster. She asks what he is doing. He says they are going to see his old lady. She screams as the car crashes into a tree and burns.
Newspapers report what happened. In court Treacher makes his closing argument and reviews the evidence that Slick Rawley killed a policeman after a robbery. Then Slick became Dr. Blake, and he must pay the penalty. He does not deny the charges because they are true. He admits that Dr. Blake was once Slick Rawley; but he argues that he has become a different person. Dr. Schuyler admitted that he helped a fugitive criminal and is willing to suffer the penalty. He learned to love Blake as his own son. He changed a pathological criminal into an eminent doctor and scientist who contributes greatly to society. Treacher asks them who they are trying. He claims that Slick died ten years ago, and a new man rose from that operation. He says the world needs what Blake can do. He asks if Dr. Blake should pay for the crimes of Slick Rawley.
Rawley is found guilty, but clemency is asked for Blake. Finally the Governor pardons Blake. He tells Janet that he is giving up his freedom to get married. She asks when he is going to take that step. She asks if he loves Janet Haydon, and he says certainly not. She tells him that the lie detector says he is telling a great lie. They laugh and kiss.
This science fiction drama suggests that perhaps someday medical science will learn enough about the brain to rehabilitate criminals by surgery and good treatment afterwards.