One morning she sets out on horseback. After he makes a fortune he opens his own place with Flaxen as the entertainer. He meets Chamalis' helper, Old Atrocity , who, seeing his bags of gold is happy to show him to the Bella Donna. The 1906 quake destroys his place. The lovers decide to leave together. When it begins to rain heavily, she seeks refuge in a seemingly abandoned cabin, where she meets poet and gold miner Jim Carmichael McCrea. Carmichael's presence perturbs Mary, who offers him money to depart.
In an early, uncredited appearance, can be spotted playing a drunken sailor being thrown out of a bar. She helps him win a large sum of money at the gambling tables, but he then loses it to a card cheat, Schildkraut. The Bishop of Los Angeles, , saw the movie with four other priests and enjoyed it; none found it immoral. When Chamalis finds out, he threatens to destroy Cobb's printing press and burn down the building, but is halted by Swan. Chamalis demands that Cobb never print anything attacking him.
Mary is upset, but quickly pulls herself together and asks the way to the Bella Donna. A group is formed and hangs Knuckles. Not to be outdone, he sets out to hone his card-playing skills for a rematch, unaware the city is poised on the brink of disaster. Goldwyn edited a few scenes and the film was allowed to be exhibited there. A lot of this is due to Morell's woman Flaxen whom Duke has fallen for. He loses his composure, insults 'Swan' and eventually loses his money.
The Chicago condemned Barbary Coast. Carmichael wakes up the following morning in the Bella Donna's kitchen. Their relationship sours quickly, however, as Swan is angered by Chamalis's destructive power-mongering. Romantic drama, starring John Wayne, Ann Dvorak and Joseph Schildkraut. His first issue includes an article criticizing an unpunished murder by Chamalis and his entourage.
Chicago threatened to ban the film. When Dvorak is injured in the disaster, Wayne is forced to realign his values. She does not, however, mind running a crooked wheel and cheating the miners out of their gold. Wayne is a Montana cattleman who falls in love with Dvorak on San Francisco's Barbary Coast. Chamalis finds out and sets out to kill Carmichael, who has snuck into Mary's bedroom. His eloquent speech impresses Chamalis, who hires him on the spot as a waiter.
Thanks to his new-found expertise, Wayne is able to rake in enough bucks to open his own saloon, bringing Dvorak along for the ride as star of the floor show. The men at the wharf reluctantly inform her that her fiancé is dead, murdered most likely by Louis Chamalis , the powerful owner of the Bella Donna restaurant and gambling house. Carmichael refuses, wishing to earn the fare on his own. Chamalis gives her the name 'Swan' and she becomes his female escort. He is served drugged liquor and plays roulette at her table. Swan becomes disillusioned with her life in San Francisco. Carmichael decides to return to New York.
Chastened by the experience, Wayne leaves Frisco with his tail between his legs, returning only after he himself has become a gambling expert. He gives her his book of poems as a memento. Though Ann at first brings Wayne luck, he ends up losing his shirt to cardshark Joseph Schildkraut. Her distant behavior irks Chamalis. At least, Wayne is suitably rugged and there's plenty of knockabout action.
Dying, Cobb orders his assistant to print the truth. John Wayne excels himself as cattleman Duke Fergus, competing with slimy Joseph Schildkraut for the attentions of showgirl Ann Dvorak. Mary begs him, as proof of his love for her, not to kill Carmichael. They find a rowboat and attempt to board the ship in the harbor. Returning to Frisco, he cleans up and opens his own gambling saloon. A , she has come to wed the wealthy owner of a gold mine who lost his mine when the roulette wheel landed on red 13 times at the Bella Donna.
Though he heads home after losing the money to Morell's card-sharping, Duke takes a crash course on card play and returns with all his savings ready to take on Morell and start up his own place. The earth may soon be moving for him in quite dramatic ways. Carmichael is surprised to find Mary working there. A cattle rancher falls for a San Francisco saloon-bar singer, but she proves to be in cahoots with a ruthless card sharp who wins all his money. Mary meets Chamalis and agrees to be his companion, not only for business reasons as an attraction, she helps draw in customers , but for personal pleasure as well. The Duke and The Dvorak decide to bid adieu to the City by the Bay, heading off to Montana to start life anew. She accompanies him on promenades in town and he showers her with extravagant gifts.
Colonel Cobb purchases a , with the intention of starting a respectable newspaper for the people of San Francisco. Shot in and set in San Francisco during the era, the film combines elements of , , and genres, features a wide range of actors, from good-guy to bad-boy , and stars in the leading role as Mary 'Swan' Rutledge. Numerous intrigues ensue, culminating in a drawn-out trial scene. The sheriff arrives with a mob, and Chamalis allows himself to be taken away. . The Duke goes back to Montana and learns cards from an ace gambler.