Based on court records, racketeers force truck drivers to join their association while a prosecutor tries to get witnesses to testify.
John Martin (Humphrey Bogart) intends to make people pay. The Governor (Henry O'Neill) asks Hugh Allison (Walter Abel) to break up the rackets. Martin plans to control food by organizing truck drivers. Allison sends out investigators. A union officer and a restaurant owner refuse to talk from fear. A meeting is called for all truck drivers; but Denny Jordan (George Brent) says he and Skeets Wilson (Allen Jenkins) won't join. Gladys (Penny Singleton) complains to Skeets, and Denny's wife Nora (Gloria Dickson) is pregnant. Pop Wilson (Oscar O'Shea) warns drivers not to go to the meeting and is knocked down; but Denny fights back. Skeets tells Denny that he is going into the tomato business. Denny finds his brakes don't work. Charlie (Elliott Sullivan) won't tell Allison who beat him up. When Denny agrees to help Allison, Charlie talks. Gus is arrested, and Martin hears of it. Charlie is beaten up, and Denny's truck is burned.
At the meeting Denny and others walk out. Two men threaten Nora and give Denny one week. Denny learns that Skeets is not selling tomatoes. Nora goes to the hospital, and Denny is out of money. Denny steals money from the association and gives money to a doctor so that Nora can go to a sanitarium. Denny finds Martin and men at his home. Martin asks Denny to join and says he can keep the money. Allison persuades a judge to hold witnesses in contempt. Martin's men destroy businesses. Denny asks Skeets to join; but when he says no, men break up his tomato business. In a line-up Pop identifies two men. Denny gets a new truck and visits Nora at the sanitarium. Pop is pushed in front of a train. Allison learns from Gladys and Skeets about Denny. After Pop's funeral Nora tells Denny that Gladys told her. Nora tells Denny that he is wrong. Denny is arrested but won't talk. Martin has the drivers strike, causing a food shortage. Skeets says he'll get the truck drivers moving and makes a speech. Allison tells Denny what Skeets is doing and lets him go. Skeets drives the first truck and is shot. Denny drives the truck into Martin's office, and they fight. Denny overcomes Martin and tells Allison that he will talk. Men now testify. Martin is convicted and is sentenced to 60-90 years.
This drama reflects efforts to stop racketeering by getting witnesses to testify against them and also symbolizes the wider problem of fascism.