Working for the New York Department of Weights and Measures can be risky business. You wouldn't think so, but that's just how it is. That's how Johnny Cave (James Cagney) got promoted to chief inspector. The last guy was sent to the hospital for "an early retirement" by a band of crooked thugs.
No matter to Johnny, a former boxing champion who isn't easily frightened and impossible to persuade. He also intends to make a very good example for his new assistant, Pat Haley (James Burke), an Irishman who is full of fairy tales. As soon as he took over the position, arrests and fines went up 51 percent which didn't sit well with the bad guys. Especially the head bad guy, a corrupt city official named Marty Cavanaugh (Robert Gleckler). He does his best to initially temp Cave into taking bribes and is more than a little annoyed when Johnny refuses. He sends a couple of his strong arms to rough the chief inspector up and then sets him up for a drunk driving charge. Johnny is picked up from the crash site, hauled off to court and then "rescued" by Cavanaugh to show his power. Still Cave will not be broken. In fact it just makes him more determined to get to the root of the corruption and take a bite out of crime. Especially when it involves housewives and little old ladies who run orphanages.
He gets the perfect opportunity when he finds out that his fiancÚ's boss, Mr. Abel Canning (Henry Kolker), is ripping off the local orphanage by shorting it's deliveries. His soon to be bride, Janet Henry (Mae Clark), doesn't believe it and constantly gives the good hearted inspector grief over the accusations. Johnny doesn't have long before he obtains proof as he catches the delivery men in the act. He turns the story over to the papers and prepares his reports to send to the district attorney. Even though Cave is falsely accused of blackmail, he persists. As he is taking the papers to court, Joe Burton (Joe Sawyer), roughs him up and knocks him out on the stairs, stealing the only copy of the proof. Joe who is actually one of Cavanaugh's henchmen, is a dirty double crosser and tries to blackmail Canning for $5000.00 dollars. Joe hides the papers under the wallpaper in his closet and calls for a meeting with the dishonest supplier. Canning finally agrees to me Joe at a going away party held by Pete Reilly (Edward Brophy), a former boxer and possible crook gone straight. Little do they know that Johnny is a very good friend of Pete and is planning on attending the party also. Fate throws them together when Johnny witnesses Burton and Canning step behind closed doors for the payoff. Canning pays Joe and leaves straight away for his apartment to retrieve the documents in question. Through a comical story, Cave slugs Burton and knocks him out, then snatching the check out of his pocket. He is disappointed to see that is made out to cash and won't help as far as proof. Johnny hurriedly leaves the party knowing that Able and Cavanaugh are going to get the papers. He plans to catch them in the act and regain his lost paperwork. Luckily someone phones Captain Pat Hanlon (Edward McNamara), who is Johnny's police buddy. The caller sends a message for Pat to show up on Joe's doorstep as there might be trouble. And trouble there is when Johnny shows up just in time to catch Canning trying to burn the proof. Bad news is that Marty has his behind the door with his gun and sticks it in Johnny's back when he walks in. Captain Hanlon shows up just in time also. He removes Canning to the hallway after Johnny snatches his information back. As for Cavanaugh, he gets a good old fashioned wailing by Johnny before he is takes off to jail.
With the ring broken and the proof shown, Johnny returns to Janet's good graces and she accepts his engagement ring in hopes of marriage.
The review of this Movie prepared by Talea