Humphrey Bogart plays Whip McCord, the leader of an outlaw gang who opens the film robbing a stagecoach. Enter James Cagney as the titular kid, another outlaw who, in turn, robs McCord and his gang.
Cagney proves the black sheep of his family. His father and brother have big dreams of founding a city in the coming Cherokee Strip Land Run. Cagney wants nothing to do with it, content with his life.
The land rush sequence proves a grand spectacle with a screen full of speeding wagons and horses racing for the future. Cagney’s brother and father lead the pack, but when they arrive at their desired spot, they find Bogart and gang already there—“sooners” who cheated. Rather than file a complaint and risk losing, Cagney’s father settles with Bogart, who demands casino and saloon rights in the new town.
Fast-forward and the town of Tulsa booms. Bogart has ascended to vice-lord. His casinos and saloons are teaming, but the accompanying drunken violence has the town in disarray.
The town turns to Cagney’s father for help, but Bogart has him framed for murder and jailed. When Cagney gets word, he rides into town and attempts a jailbreak, but his father refuses, confident a trial will confirm his innocence. Frustrated, Cagney leaves.
Sensing an opportunity, Bogart foments unrest by revealing the attempted jailbreak, and has his gang lead a mob that marches to the jailhouse and lynch Cagney’s father.
Cagney gets word and sets out after the gang members responsible, offing them one at a time, but leaving Bogart for last, setting up a final confrontation.
It proves a solid little western despite the quirky casting. Cagney’s mascara—visible in several scenes—and overall smooth appearance doesn’t mesh with the dusty trails and dirty streets. Bogart looks ridiculous early in his form-fitting, all-black saddle wear, but seems more comfortable later in his black suit. He even looks a little shaggy under his hat. Chalk this one up to star power.