Based on Graham Greene's novel, a hired killer is betrayed by his employer and seeks revenge, helping police capture a ring of spies.
Philip Raven (Alan Ladd) rips the dress and slaps the face of the cleaning woman Annie (Pamela Blake). He takes a letter to Albert Baker and shoots him dead. A woman sees, and he kills her too. He gives the formula papers to a man who denies he is Willard Gates (Laird Cregar) and pays him $1,000 in tens. Gates asks police investigator Michael Crane (Robert Preston) to get the man who killed his paymaster and stole the ten-dollar bills. Ellen Graham (Veronica Lake) sings "That's Love" and performs magic. Gates hires her for his nightclub. She meets Senator Burnett in a car and agrees to go after the spy Gates. Raven buys a dress for $10 for Annie; but the sales lady sees the $5,000 reward that Gates offered. Ellen tells Michael she is going to Los Angeles. He wants to marry her, and she says she will in Los Angeles. Michael questions Annie, but Raven overhears and takes her hostage. Raven gets away and follows Gates. On the train Raven sits next to Ellen. Gates sees Raven sleeping. Gates has police check men's left wrist; but Raven gets away with Ellen.
Gates gives the chemical company president Brewster (Tully Marshall) Baker's letter, but Brewster is angry Raven got away. Michael is sent to Brewster. Ellen tries to call Michael for the reward and sings for Gates. Kids see Raven's wrist and get a cop; but Raven escapes. Brewster tells Michael that Raven should be shot. Gates tells Ellen he is afraid of Raven. Gates' chauffeur Tommy (Marc Lawrence) tells him how he will drown Ellen. Tommy tells Michael that Ellen is not there; but Raven with a gun holds up Tommy and locks him in the basement. Raven finds Ellen and unties her, asking her to take him to Gates. Tommy calls Gates to warn him. Gates flees as Raven with Ellen escapes from Michael; but she leaves a trail. Raven and Ellen go underground. She tells him that Baker's formula is poison gas. Raven explains that his aunt beat him for years; after she damaged his wrist, he killed her. Ellen tells him to stop killing and let Gates confess. Raven sends her as a decoy, but he shoots a cop while he is escaping. Ellen tells Michael that Raven saved her life. Raven holds Brewster and Gates hostage, making them sign a confession that they sold poison gas to Japan. Brewster tries to kill Raven but dies of heart failure. Raven shoots Gates dead. Raven is shot by police but does not shoot Michael as Ellen is helping him. They find the confession as Raven dies.
This early film noir varies the enemy-spy-ring plot
by having a professional killer accidentally become the hero despite
his murdering, which is explained as the result of being abused
as a child.