Cagney plays Jim Kane, a punch-drunk boxer in need of a break. His manager Pop (Guy Kibbee) sends him to a Western “health ranch” where he can breathe clean air and stay away from booze and women.
A city boy spooked by the great outdoors, especially the howling coyotes, Kane falls into the arms of Peggy (Marian Nixon), a widow whose son is recovering at the same spa. They make promises of starting a life together, which get lost in the fog of parties and money that greet Kane upon his return.
Hitting an unbeaten streak inside the ring, he is recruited by socialite Joan Gibson (Virginia Bruce) to act as a kind of lumpen proletariat mascot for her circle of nouveau riche friends. He lends an air of the streets to their penthouses, but Kane doesn’t realized he’s being used.
He’s just trying to get into Joan’s pants, enough to get plastic surgery on his broken nose and cauliflower ears.
No longer looking the brute, Joan ditches him, and Kane has to justify his self-centered actions to win Peggy back.
PS — Here’s the famous “Yiddish scene” from Taxi that’s mentioned in the article: