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After his son is expelled from various universities, Colonel Clark of the Pennsylvania state police has him inducted into the police force under the name of Smith. Private Smith is immediately insubordinate and flirts with Helen Evans, the girl friend of his superior, Sergeant Dan Prescott. When the coal mines are closed in nearby Minersburg, racketeer Trigger Magee intimidates the poor miners into illegally digging coal for him to sell on the black market. Miner Albert Morton, however, refuses to dig, and Magee kills him. Dan is ordered to arrest Magee and end the corruption of the miners. Helen's brother Jack, owner of "The Oaks" resort, is killed by Magee after he tricks him in a deal. Smith quits the police force to help the racketeers break the miners' barricade. Magee, who was thought to be dead, holds Smith hostage. Smith refuses to call his father to tell him to call off the state troopers, and is brutally beaten by Magee as a result. The miners form a coalition to get rid of the racketeers, but are persuaded to hold off their assault until the arrival of the troopers. During the battle between the police and the racketeers, Magee and his cohort, Fred, are killed while making a dash for freedom. Smith is hailed as a hero by his police friends so that his father will be proud of him. While police and the miners rout the rest of the hoodlums from their town, Dan reunites with Helen.