Eddie Roback (Dane Clark), an American army deserter turned criminal, is going to trial in Paris after a ten-month delay when he is sprung on his way to court in a pitched gun battle. A manhunt ensues with the police just a few paces behind, including a nicely staged scene in a department store in which Roback manages to improvise an escape, only to be standing by across the street from his intended destination as his waiting confederates are taken by the police. Investigators try to get ahead of him by reaching out his girlfriend, Denise Vernon (Simone Signoret). Feigning innocence, she makes contact with the wounded Roback, who is turned away by his former associates in his attempts to find shelter and escape. She eventually finds him a hiding place in the studio of Max Salva, a lecherous photographer with a sadistic streak, who may have given Roback up to the police. Denise tries to find him a way out of the country, with money from an American writer, Frank Clinton (Robert Duke), while the police slowly catch on to Roback's whereabouts, drawing the net ever closer. Several battles of wits unfold at once, drawing the viewer in, across intertwining, overlapping plot elements. Even nature raises its hand against Roback as a crippling fog slows his seemingly easy escape to Belgium. All of the players are drawn together for a final confrontation that is every bit as violent as anything seen in American crime films of the period.