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Everyone in Eddie O'Brien's neighborhood on the Lower East Side of New York City is excited when they hear that he is returning from World War II. Eddie's fiancée, Colleen Flanagan, however, is devastated when she learns from a letter that he wants to end their engagement. Mrs. O'Brien, Eddie's mother, consoles Colleen by insisting that she has misunderstood the letter and that Eddie certainly still loves her. Pat, Colleen's brother, overhears their conversation and tells the other members of his gang: Mickey Popopolous, Gus Schmidt, Sammy Levine and Tony Albertini. The boys still resent Eddie for his strict treatment of them when he was the neighborhood policeman, and now that they are convinced he has treated Colleen badly, they decide to ridicule him at his homecoming. They change their minds, however, when Eddie arrives permanently crippled by a war injury. Colleen persuades Eddie that his injury does not change her love for him, and he admits that he still loves her, but does not want to get married until he knows that he can support her. Colleen explains to Pat that she and Eddie had planned to buy a chicken farm in New Jersey, but they lack the money for a down payment. The boys then scheme to raise the needed funds, knowing that Eddie will not accept charity. After reading a newspaper story, one of the boys suggests that they try to capture bank robber Shadow Sorecki and collect a $10,000 reward. As this idea seems impractical, Pat proposes that Tony, who is an amateur boxer, try to fight K. O. Burke, a professional who has offered $200 to anyone who can last three rounds with him. That plan fails when Burke knocks Tony out in the second round. One day, Pat drives Colleen and Eddie to look at a farm for sale in New Jersey. The Jenkins, who own the farm, take to the couple and lower the asking price, but it is still too much for Colleen and Eddie. In New York, Tony gets into a dispute with Gaines, the rent collector. Later, Gaines tries to collect rent from tenants in the same building, who happen to be Sorecki's gang. Their last robbery attempt was thwarted by the police, and desperate for cash, the gang steals Gaines' rent money. In the ensuing struggle, the bag containing the money falls out the window to the alley below, and Gaines is killed by a blow to the head. Before the robbers can retrieve the money, Tony discovers it and tells the boys he found on the street three weeks earlier. The boys then open a bank account and write Mr. and Mrs. Jenkins a deposit check for the farm. When the boys return to New York, the gangsters corner Tony and demand the money, but when he recognizes Sorecki, they kidnap him. After dropping most of the gangsters at a hideout in the country, one drives Tony further into the country. Realizing that the man intends to kill him, Tony struggles with his captor and the car runs off a cliff. Meanwhile, Gaines' body is discovered and the police suspect Tony. Although Tony is missing, the rest of the boys are arrested. After hearing their story, Eddie offers to help them. Tony is finally discovered in a hospital where he has been unconscious. He tells Eddie what happened and directs the police to Sorecki's hideout. The gang is rounded up, and Tony gets the reward money. Later, the judge paroles the boys to Eddie's custody, and he puts them to work on the farm.