Samuel Fuller directs this classic film noir thriller starring Richard Widmark as Skip McCoy, a solitary pickpocket who has just been released from prison. On the subway he steals a handbag belonging to Candy (Jean Peters), a beautiful young woman who is unwittingly carrying US government secrets for underground communists. Candy's communist ex-boyfriend Joey (Richard Kiley), who planted the package on her, and the FBI, who have been keeping Candy under surveillance, are both desperate to retrieve the package, and it isn't long before they track Skip down. Skip, hard-nosed and unrepenting, begins to play the two parties off against each other and negotiate for a pay-off. But in the meantime he is becoming involved with Candy, and he slowly comes to realise that some things are worth more than his own personal gain.