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Dan Loring, an aspiring doctor who is too poor to attend medical school, arrives in the oil town of Goliath, Texas, hoping to earn quick money as a "nitro shooter." Although he is warned by company manager Rocky Sanders about the risks involved in delivering nitroglycerin, Dan eagerly accepts the high-paying job and is paired with Sam "Easy" Street, a veteran "soup handler" who insists he needs the money to get to "easy street." Immediately impressed by Dan's character, Easy encourages him to pursue his daughter Cathie, who, like most of the town's women, detests the nerve-racking "nitro" business. Under Rocky's expert tutelage, Dan learns how to deliver and detonate the powerful explosive on which the oil drillers depend. Dan also learns how strongly Cathie feels about his job, when she categorically refuses his offer to become a "soup handler's" wife. In spite of Cathie's and his own realization that he could die on any trip, or go mad from "nitro fever," an insanity that afflicts many veteran handlers, Dan insists that he needs the money to make it to medical school. However, after Gabby Donovan, whose nervous, henpecking wife Nancy is notorious for her tirades against the nitroglycerin business, dies in an explosion, Easy suddenly orders Dan to stay away from Cathie. Confused and hurt, Dan goes to Cathie and proposes, but is rejected when he refuses to quit his job. Although she still loves Dan, Cathie agrees to marry his rival, the rich oil heir, Eric Trumble. In his depression, Dan volunteers to fly to Tampico, Mexico with a load of nitroglycerin, but is knocked out by Easy, who then takes his place. Near the end of the long flight, the plane hits a fog bank and is unable to land safely at the airfield. Out of fuel, Easy tells Bill, the pilot, to steer the craft toward the ocean. As Dan and Cathie listen to the plane's communications over a radio, Easy tells Cathie to love Dan, then dies in a great blast.