Jim Wade and Blackie Gallagher are two boys orphaned by the sinking of a ship. Upon the death of their guardian, also a survivor of the sinking, the boys go their separate ways. Jim (William Powell) grows up to have a prominent political career, while Blackie (Clark Gable) becomes a casino owner and killer. Despite Blackie's lifestyle, the two men remain bonded through thick and thin. But when Jim runs for governor, his association with Blackie threatens his chances.