Frankie, Phil, and Carlo grow up in a poor Italian neighborhood known as the 1st Ward in Newark, New Jersey, during the depression and WWII. Times were bad; for them, stealing was a way of life. The brothers, Frankie and Phil, become wise guys working for the Family. Carlo becomes a policeman to get away from the criminal element or so he thought. Using the problems of everyday life as an excuse, Carlo accepts favors from his past friends, Frankie, Phil, and their caporegime favors he knows he must someday repay. Does Carlo renege on his commitments? Are Frankie and Phil ordered to hit Carlo? Or does Carlo give up being a cop and join his friends? Do all three survive their tumultuous lives, or do they end up on a cold morgue slab?