A hitch-hiking intellectual treads through the desert, a hopeless waitress tends tables, and a gangster sits in a car deliberating whether or not he should head down to the border. Arthur (Leslie Howard) doesn't believe in the meaning of life anymore. After becoming a published writer everything has lost its value for him. Gabby has dreams of reuniting with her mother in France and escaping the dreary hell of fending off advances every day from schmoes in the Arizona desert.
The two meet cute and Gabby thinks she may have found true love. The two share a love for poetry and the Arthur has found a cause worth dying for. With his life insurance settlement he can make Gabby a more enlightened being.
Duke Mantee is about to walk into their lives and potentially end all of their dreams. He has killed people before and he won't mind doing it again to save his skin, but he is not a monster. He knows to respect his elders and slaps Half-back around when he doesn't. Half-drunk on whiskey Arthur pieces together a scheme to bring Gabby halfway around the world.
This is the film that set the Humphrey Bogart star into the world and it is all due to Leslie Howard's refusal to do the film without him.