After several years of supporting parts, Victor McLaglen once more landed a leading role in Republic's City of Shadows. McLaglen plays Big Tim Channing, an ageing but powerful gangster who raises young newsboy Dan Mason as his own son. Upon reaching adulthood, Mason (John Baer) becomes a law student, with the covert (and illegal) help of Channing. Despite his checkered past, Mason opts for honesty when he falls in love with Fern Fellows (Kathleen Crowley). This decision ultimately spells the doom for Mason's mentor Big Tim.