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Having been shot and wounded by racketeer Joe Farrow during a crooked craps game, New York gambler Marc Fury is questioned by homicide detectives investigating the death of another player, who was murdered during the same confrontation. Marc's wound makes him a suspect, and although he knows that Farrow shot him in order to frame him, he reluctantly accepts Farrow's offer to stand trial for the murder in exchange for $50,000. During the trial, Marc, who is pleading self-defense, demands his money from Farrow. When Farrow instead writes him an I.O.U., Marc grabs the racketeers' numbers book and threatens to turn it over to the police if Farrow reneges on their deal. Helped by Farrow's false testimony, Marc is then acquitted, but is immediately arrested by federal authorities and taken to the Office of Immigration and Naturalization. Before being questioned, Marc slips Farrow's book into the pocket of a passing woman. Marc, whose real name is Marcus Furioni, then is informed that he is not a United States citizen, as his Italian parents never filed naturalization papers, and now faces deportation as an undesirable illegal alien. After Marc is sent temporarily to Ellis Island, Farrow and his lawyer approach him again, offering to help him in exchange for the book. Reminding Farrow that he stills owes him $50,000, Marc stalls Farrow, then discovers the identity of the woman from the Immigration Office, Lynn Warren, and tracks her to the Federated Assistance League. The daughter of a prominent lawyer, Lynn, who helps recently arrived immigrants, is cool to Marc but allows him to accompany her as she drives the Sobieski family to their new apartment. When Lynn reveals that the Sobieskis have lost their sponsor and may be deported if they fail to find another, Marc, who is attracted to Lynn, suggests that a gambler friend of his might sponsor them. At her posh home, Lynn returns Farrow's book to Marc and, while wary of his aggressive charms, accepts his kiss. Later, during Marc's immigration hearing, Farrow's lawyer pleads Marc's case by pointing out his excellent war record. Not convinced, Judge Revinek invites Marc to speak for himself and is startled when Marc states that he does not know why he wants to stay in America, but knows he does. After the judge gives Marc a few days to come up with an answer, Marc tries again to retrieve his $50,000. Claiming financial hardship, Farrow instead offers to make Marc his partner, but Marc rejects the idea and refuses to return his book. Farrow then orders Sharky and some of his other thugs to follow Marc to Lynn's apartment, and there they beat him up while searching for the book. Although Lynn begs Marc not to take revenge on Farrow, Marc plots with his friend Willie to ambush the racketeer at his New Jersey casino. Before leaving, Marc goes with Lynn to see the Sobieskis, who are being deported because Marc's friend fell through as a sponsor. Lynn sadly tells Marc that the only way to stop their deportation is with money. That night at Farrow's casino, an armed Marc forces Farrow to pay him his $50,000, then flees with an unsuspecting Lynn. When the police stop Lynn's car to question her about the casino "robbery," Lynn lies for Marc but later decries his tactics. After a teary Lynn reads Marc a Thomas Wolfe poem about the "promise of America," Marc asks Willie to deposit the $50,000 under a phony name and write a check made out to Lynn for the same amount, which she is to pass on to the Sobieskis. Marc then delivers a heartfelt, patriotic speech at his immigration hearing, paraphrasing the Wolfe poem. Lynn is moved by Marc's transformation, and Judge Revinek rules in his favor. Afterward, the vengeful Farrow has Sharky and his men watch Marc's movements, and aware that he is being pursued, Marc tells Lynn to forget him. In front of Sharky, Marc then accuses Farrow of using his men as "fall guys" for his misdeeds, and when Farrow orders Sharky to shoot Marc, Sharky fires on Farrow instead. Having been alerted by Willie, the police roar up and arrest Sharky as he is escaping, and Marc, at last free of his past, walks off into the night.