A woman becomes a compulsive gambler while visiting Las Vegas, and her husband competes with her older sister to try to help her.
Joan Boothe (Barbara Stanwyck) plays dice with men in an alley and is beat up. Her husband David Boothe (Robert Preston) tells Dr. Rojac (John Hoyt) he has not seen her for a year. David tells about Las Vegas.
Joan puts a camera in a cigarette package and takes pictures of gamblers. She is removed, and Corrigan (Stephen McNally) exposes her film. She is working on a story, and he gives her worthless house chips. David is writing about Boulder Dam. Corrigan tells Joan not to play poker, but she says she is winning.
Corrigan learns Joan does not have her camera and tells her to use her own money. She gambles and loses her $600 expense money. She asks Corrigan for $100, and she pawns her camera. Joan rolls dice and wins. She puts the $600 back. Joan's sister Ruth has arrived, and David leaves.
Corrigan offers to stake Joan in his private poker game. He dances with Ruth. She likes him and quarrels with Joan, who warns her. Joan goes to Corrigan's poker game and wins $4,000 for him; he gives her $800 and kisses her.
David comes back and takes Joan to Boulder Dam. He is worried about her gambling, and she agrees to stop. David learns that she has been playing poker secretly. David looks for her and finds her needing help.
David asks Dr. Rojac to release Joan to him. David says they went to Mexico. He is writing a book and leaves for a short trip. Mr. and Mrs. Sutherland invite Joan to go gambling. She tries not to play and goes home, but she breaks into the money box. David learns she lost it all. He gives her half of his $180 and goes back to Chicago.
Joan goes to Las Vegas and asks Corrigan for a job. He asks her to be a front for his horse racing syndicate. She says she wants to pay David back the $1400. Joan loses at the races, and men exclude her from their poker game. They have a fast horse at 30-1 and agree not to bet until just before the race. Joan gets divorce papers from David. She bets $200 on the horse, and others bring the odds down to 8-5. Corrigan and four men come into her room. They find her ticket and hit her and Corrigan.
Corrigan leaves Joan on her own. David says he followed her. Dr. Rojac shows her to David, and Ruth arrives. Ruth blames David and wants Joan back. Ruth says that Joan killed her mother. Joan goes out on a window ledge. Dr. Rojac coaxes her, and she takes David's hand. Joan tells Ruth to go away. David assures Joan that she will get well.
This drama explores how gambling can be addictive and
ruin one's life. Apparently Joan's psychological weakness is related
to her troubled relationship with her neurotic older sister.