Ordell Robie's put away close to a million dollars through gunrunning, and he has power over a significant gang of street punks. His main problems are moving his cash from an island in the Bahamas to the United States and making sure that if any of his associates are captured, they don't make deals with the cops to turn him over.
His solution to the second problem brings him into contact with Max Cherry, a bail bondsman. Robie uses Cherry to hide the fact that the bail money supplied for his henchmen is cash from his own coffers. Once the associate is bailed out, Ordell kills him.
Ordell's solution to his first problem is Jackie Burke, an airline stewardess who brings money in $50,000 lots from the island. Ordell would like her to bring more, but she's afraid too large a parcel would get her caught; she'll only carry what will fit into a manilla mailing envelope.
Jackie is caught with both contraband money and a small packet of cocaine. Ordell has Max bail her out, and he waits in her apartment for her to return so he can kill her. Jackie, meanwhile, stops for dinner with Max, and their later romance is foreshadowed. When Jackie does get home, she realizes why Ordell is there, and she draws a gun she stole from Max's car. She offers Ordell a deal - she'll bring in the whole half million he has in cash on the island for a fee. Ordell must also allow her to give the cops enough information so they will let her go free and get her reinstated in the small airline she was working for. It's Ordell's only chance to get his money, so he agrees.
Then follows a series of double and triple crosses as Jackie, Ordell, Ordell's associates and Max all vie for the chance to walk away with Ordell's half mil.
Ordell is smart and greedy, but he's surrounded by characters who, in the end, outdo him in both departments.
This report prepared by David Gordon