A doctor treats a gangster for tuberculosis, but the boss of the gang gets out of prison and makes things worse.
Dr. Sanada (Takashi Shimura) treats the injured hand of Matsunaga (Toshiro Mifune) and finds a bullet. Sanada charges hoodlums more and checks for tuberculosis. Matsunaga grabs Sanada and calls him a liar. Sanada warns kids about drinking polluted water. Sanada goes into a bar and asks about Matsunaga, who is in a dance hall. Matsunaga gives Sanada a drink and coughs. Sanada suggests an x-ray, and Matsunaga throws him out.
Sanada tells his nurse Miyo (Chieko Nakakita) that Matsunaga is hurting inside. She says she hates Okada; but she wants to meet him when he gets out of prison. Sanada tells a young tuberculosis patient that she is better, and she bets candy she will get well. Matsunaga comes in, and Sanada calls him a coward. They quarrel, and Miyo intervenes.
Sanada gets a ride with Dr. Takahama, who says he gave Matsunaga his x-rays and sent him to Sanada for tuberculosis treatment. Drunk Matsunaga comes to Sanada and collapses. Miyo finds the x-rays. Sanada tells Matsunaga that he must do as he says, but Matsunaga says he is not afraid of death. Miyo says that Okada is playing the guitar.
Sanada tell Matsunaga he must not drink liquor. Okada finds Matsunaga, who is deferential and drinks with Okada. At a dance hall people talk about Okada, who slashed a man's face. Okada dances with Nanae (Michiyo Kogure), and Matsunaga gets drunk.
In his office Sanada reprimands Matsunaga for drinking, and Matsunaga leaves. Nanae chooses Okada instead of Matsunaga, and Matsunaga loses money to Okada. At night Sanada is told that Matsunaga threw up blood, and he goes to treat him. Nanae packs to leave Matsunaga, who kisses her goodbye.
Sanada finds that Matsunaga is gone from Nanae's place, and Okada asks where Miyo is. Sanada tells Matsunaga that he must break free from the bad people around him. Matsunaga chops open a coffin and sees himself chasing him in a dream. Okada with two men tells Sanada that Miyo is his wife. Okada threatens Sanada, and weak Matsunaga pleads for Sanada. Matsunaga does not want Sanada to go to the police, but Sanada says his boss won't back him now. Sanada goes out, and Miyo cannot stop Matsunaga from leaving.
Matsunaga overhears Okada talking about him. Okada throws money before Matsunaga, who walks out. Matsunaga takes a drink, and Miyo asks him to go to the country with her. Matsunaga takes a flower and learns that he lost his territory to Okada. Matsunaga threatens Okada with a knife; but he spits up blood, and Okada gets the knife. They fight, and Okada stabs Matsunaga.
Miyo tells Sanada that she paid 6,000 yen for Matsunaga's funeral. Sanada sees his young patient's x-rays, and she says he owes her candy. Sanada agrees with her that will power is most important.
Dr. Sanada has wry humor and sees the folly and self-destruction
of violent behavior, and this drama reflects the wiser among the
Japanese realizing that stupid sacrifices are out of style.