Six separate episodes: would-be suicides discuss their despair. A provincial dance hall. An investigative reporter posing as a husband-to-be. A young unwed mother. Girl-watching techniques of Italian men. A glimpse into prostitution.
Cagney is Danny Kenny, a truck driver who enters "the fight game" and Sheridan plays his girlfriend, Peggy. Danny realizes success in the ring and uses his income to pay for his brother Eddie's music composition career, while Peggy goes on to become a professional dancer. When Peggy turns down Danny's marriage proposal for her dancing career, Danny, who wanted to quit the fight game, continues on & is blinded by rosin dust purposely placed on the boxing gloves of his opponent during a fight.
With a screenplay adapted by Leonard Gardner from his own novel, John Huston's drama examines the meager hopes and resigned dreams of small-time boxers. In limbo between retirement and his youthful prime, alcoholic farm laborer Tully (Stacy Keach) shacks up with fellow outcast Oma (Susan Tyrrell) and keeps trying to make a boxing comeback, but his personal demons repeatedly overpower his ambitions. Meanwhile, fellow Stockton, CA resident and budding fighter Ernie (Jeff Bridges) takes Tully's advice to join trainer Ruben (Nicholas Colasanto)'s gym and make something of himself. Learning the tough lesson that winning is not as easy as it sounds, Ernie is still determined to get what he can out of boxing and, unlike Tully, not let disappointments get the best of him.