In 1924, in Chicago, the wealthy and psychotic nihilist law students Judd Steiner (Dean Stockwell) and Arthur Strauss (Bradford Dillman) believe that they can be above the law and commit minor infractions. Their college mate Sid Brooks (Martin Milner) that works for the Chicago Globe is assigned to go to the morgue to see a drowned boy found in Hegewisch Park. He discovers that the boy is actually Paul Kessler, the son of a millionaire that had been kidnapped for ransom. Further, Sid discovers a pair of the glasses with the boy that becomes a lead to the police since it does not fit the victim. When Judd finds that his glasses are evidence for the murder case, he prepares an alibi using his activity of ornithologist and tells that he was picking up girls with Artie driving the Stutz Bearcat of his family. However the astute District Attorney Harold Horn (E.G. Marshall) investigates the case and lures Judd getting his confession. But the Steiner and Strauss families hire the cunning defense attorney Jonathan Wilk (Orson Welles) to defend the perpetrators of the hideous crime.