In New York City in the 1920's, young Vincent Coll grows up a restless, tormented youth, the product of an unhappy home dominated by a savagely sadistic father. At the age of 17 he organizes a neighborhood gang and, by ruthless and vicious tactics, challenges the reign of New York's top mobster, Dutch Schultz, king of the bootlegging rackets.
Frustrated by his unrequited love for Elizabeth, a young musician, Coll rapes her. He then takes on a nightclub stripper, Clio, as his mistress. As the years pass he becomes known as "Mad Dog" Coll, the most vicious killer in all of gangland, hated and sought by both the police and rival mobsters. Following a waterfront gang fight in which two innocent children are slain, Coll and his last remaining cohort, Joe, are forced to go into hiding.
Coll, on the brink of insanity, kidnaps a member of Schultz's gang, and, under the delusion that the man is his dead father, murders him. Joe, who has fallen in love with Elizabeth, now realizes that Coll has become deranged, and he decides to tip off the police. Consequently, when Coll goes to make a phone call at a nearby drugstore, the police are waiting for him, and he is shot down in a fusillade of machine-gun fire.
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