Kentucky-born and bred Dix Handley is a long way from his rural roots when he's arrested for a string of robberies in a Midwestern city. He's guilty but the police can't make the charges stick. Police commissioner Hardy is disgusted by Lieutenant Ditrich's ineffectiveness at stopping Handley and tracking Erwin Riedenschneider. Just released from prison, criminal mastermind Riedenschneider reveals his latest plan to a bookmaker named Cobby. Riedenschneider aims to use Cobby to get crooked, wealthy lawyer Alonzo Emmerich to fund his heist plan.
Dix's friend Doll comes to him for help after the police raid her workplace. Dix allows her to stay with him but warns her not to get any ideas. Too late. It's clear that Doll loves Dix, but to Dix. He borrows money from his friend Gus to repay his gambling debts to Cobby. Dix's fondness for horseracing stems from growing up with thoroughbreds on the farm which his father owned and lost. Dix is desperate to raise money and buy back the farm.
Emmerich's got money problems too, something which he tells his private detective Bob Brannom. He plans a double cross so he can run away with his blond mistress Angela, from his debts and sad, invalid wife May. Brannom helps him plot.
Riedenschneider gets suspicious when Emmerich gets Cobby to fund the heist with Cobby's own money. They hire a boxman/safecracker, Dix's friend Gus as the driver and Dix as the muscle. Riedenschneider confides his suspicions about Emmerich to Dix, who agrees to help him collect once they pull off the heist. They carry out the plan and steal a million dollars' worth of jewels. But things go wrong and Louis the boxman gets shot.
Riedenschneider and Dix meet up with Emmerich. He tries to convince them to part with the jewels though he has no money. Brannom tries to convince them using a gun instead. In the shootout, Dix is wounded and Brannom killed. Riedenschneider tells Emmerich to arrange a trade with the insurance company for the jewels.
Gus is arrested. Louis dies from his gunshot wound. Lieutenant Ditrich comes to arrest Cobby, who tries to bribe and blackmail his way out. Police commissioner Hardy uses Cobby's confession to arrest Emmerich, who commits suicide. Ditrich lands in jail for his corruption.
Dix and Riedenschneider hide out at Doll's place. Riedenschneider makes his escape but he stops to dally at a diner. A young girl dancing to a jukebox enthralls him. Yes, he is a dirty old man. That gives the police enough time to catch him. Dix's wound from his gunfight with Brannom worsens, but he's determined to make it home to Kentucky. Doll helps him get away. Dix arrives at the family farm and collapses in the field. Surrounded by the grazing horses, he dies.