Escaping from her childhood life of poverty and abuse on the
farm, in the 1930s, Polly Franklin (Pamela Sue Martin) sets her sights on Hollywood
as the promised land and leaves home. However, she doesn't get that far - she
lands in Chicago instead. Taking the low-paying jobs which are available to her,
she quickly finds herself in a situation which is as oppressive as anything she
knew at home. Despite her best efforts to keep her head above water, she soon
winds up in prison. The best situation in her life comes afterwards, when she
becomes a prostitute in a whorehouse run by Anna Sage (Louise Fletcher). However,
even this doesn't last, as the police close down the house during a "decency crusade."
Back on the streets once again, she meets a wonderful man (Robert Conrad) who
claims to be working for the Board of Trade. She tells Anna (who is still her
friend) about this new love in her life, and Anna realizes that he must be America's
Most Wanted Man, the bank robber John Dillinger. Anna, in danger of being deported,
arranges for the police to corner Dillinger and kill him while in Anna and Polly's
company. In the ensuing publicity, everyone makes it look as though Polly was
Dillinger's betrayer, and her life becomes even more miserable than it was before.