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|Victor Mature||Nick Bianco|
|Brian Donlevy||Asst. Dist. Atty. Louis D'Angelo|
|Richard Widmark||Tommy Udo|
|Taylor Holmes||Earl Howser, Attorney|
|Karl Malden||Sgt. William Cullen|
|Anthony Ross||Big Eddie Williams|
The film begins, as it ends, with narration by Nettie (Coleen Gray). On Christmas Eve, down-on-his-luck Nick Bianco (Victor Mature), an ex-convict, and his three cohorts rob a jewelry store located on an upper floor of a New York skyscraper. Before they can exit the building, however, the proprietor sets off his alarm. While attempting to escape, Nick assaults a policeman, but is wounded in the leg and arrested.Assistant District Attorney Louis D'Angelo (Brian Donlevy) tries to persuade Nick to name his accomplices in exchange for a light sentence. Confident that his lawyer, Earl Howser (Taylor Holmes), and cohorts will look after his wife and two young daughters while he is incarcerated, Nick refuses and is given a twenty-year sentence. Three years later, at Sing Sing Prison, Nick learns that his wife has committed suicide, and his daughters have been sent to an orphanage. He later finds her obituary in the newspaper and learns his wife had been worried over financial issues prior to her death.Nick is visited in prison by Nettie Cavallo (Coleen Gray), a young woman who used to babysit his girls. Nettie reluctantly tells Nick that his wife had an affair with Pete Rizzo, one of his accomplices. Nick decides to tell all to D'Angelo; but because so much time has elapsed, D'Angelo cannot use Nick's information to reduce his sentence, but makes a deal that if Nick helps the police on another case, he will be paroled. D'Angelo questions Nick about one of his previous, unsolved robberies, which he pulled off with Rizzo. Nick implies to Howser that Rizzo "squealed" on him.