In 1930, the gangs have divided Chicago into two sections. Barney Bertsche runs the North Side and the Viale brothers, Augie and Vito, control the South Side. The line of demarcation is Madison Street. Newspaper reporter Jake Lingle phones in a story about a two gangland shootings but is later shot down in a subway station by a hood named Leo Brothers. Thousands of people turn out for Lingle's funeral which marked the first time in Chicago history that a reporter had been killed by the Mobs. Lingle's newspaper puts up a $25,000.00 reward for information leading up to the capture of his killer.
Ex-convict Bill Hagen decides to make a try for the reward money. He meets with Ness and Flaherty and offers them a deal. Hagen will give them tips about the illicit booze operations of Barney Bertsche if they will pass onto him any tidbits of information they discover about the Lingle killing. Ness and Flaherty reluctantly agree to the deal.
Later Ness meets with D.A. Beecher Asbury who reveals to him the truth about Jake Lingle. Though he's now a martyr with the public, in reality Lingle was pocketing money from the Mob for being a broker for police protection. Reportedly over $50,000 per year.
Hagen, who used to be a bootlegger in St. Louis, meets with Barney Bertsche and gets a job in his organization. After getting Bertsche to trust him, Hagen tips off Ness about one of the gang's stills located at a farmhouse. The Untouchables raid the joint and one of the men arrested there tips them that one Paddy O'Day supplied the gun for the Lingle killing. Ness relays this bit of info to Hagen.
Hagen tips off Ness a few more times but Jack Zuta, one of Bertsche's lieutenants, is getting suspicious and thinks he's a stoolie. Zuta and another Bertsche lieutenant, Joe Aiello, set a trap by giving Hagen false info about a distillery. Hagen calls Ness about the distillery but unknown to him if Ness raids, he will be exposed. The trap fails when Ness doesn't fall for it because of the unusual location (a residential neighborhood) and lack of alcohol odor in the air.
Now it's Jack Zuta who's in trouble. Not only is Bertsche mad at him for accusing Hagen of being an informant he's also discovered that it was Zuta who had Lingle killed. Zuta tries to make off with the cash from the office safe but Bertsche catches him. He lets Zuta have two grand and go on the lam.
Bertsche calls up Augie Viale and asks for a conference. They meet at Viale's headquarters and agree to a game of "death" blackjack. Each time one of them loses a round he has to agree to let the other knock off one of his gang. Viale loses Albert Anselmi and John Scalise. Bertsche loses Joe Aiello and the on the lam Jack Zuta. All four later die in a hail of machine gun bullets. Zuta gets his in a Wisconsin dance hall.
Meanwhile, Ness discovers some interesting things about the seemingly cynical Bill Hagen. It seems that his wife left him and took their young son because she was sick and tired of his life of crime. Hagen is hoping to use the reward money to start a new life and reunite with his wife. This leads him to pass up a huge booze deal with Bertsche which could be worth $300,000. Hagen informs Ness about a booze convoy and then Ness tells him that the man who shot Lingle is Leo Brothers. (Ness having gotten the info from the aforementioned Paddy O'Day) Hagen discovers the hotel where Brothers has been hiding. He goes there and apprehends him thus collecting the reward for the capture of Lingle's killer.
In the final scene, Ness muses to Flaherty about the irony of the situation. Lingle looked good on the outside but was rotten to the core on the inside. Hagen appeared rotten but in reality only wanted to reunite with his family. Share this article with your friends