Yankee lawyer John Reynolds and Southern Belle Julie Mirbeau meet and fall in love on a riverboat going to New Orleans in the Gay Nineties. Upon arrival they are met by Julie's father who runs the popular Louisiana State Lottery Company and Reynold's Aunt Blanche who is a key figure in the anti-lottery forces hoping Reynolds, as State's Attorney, will end the lottery.
Reynolds is invited to the Mirbeau mansion, where Julie and her father explain that not only are the people of New Orleans fun loving gamblers, but the lottery funds many charitable institutions such as hospitals and levees for the river.
Unknown to General Mirbeau is his assistant Blackie's protection rackets and murders of lottery winners through his army of thugs led by Cuffy Brown. The lottery forces also have information sources in the State's Attorney's office that reveals every move Reynolds has planned to raid illegal activities as well as corrupting judges and other officials through their brothels.
The battle between the two forces escalates, leading to a climax of lightning striking and destroying a courthouse where a trial is going on and a break in the levees during torrential rains that flood the city.
- John Wayne as John Reynolds
- Ona Munson as Julie Mirbeau
- Ray Middleton as Blackburn "Blackie" Williams
- Henry Stephenson as General Anatole Mirbeau
- Helen Westley as Blanche Brunot
- Jack Pennick as Cuffy Brown
- Dorothy Dandridge as Felice
- Shimen Ruskin as Gaston
- Jacqueline Dalya as Pearl
- Paul Scardon as Judge Wilson
- James H. McNamara as Senator Cassidy (as Major James H. McNamara)
- James C. Morton as Littlefield
- Maurice Costello as Edwards
Republic Pictures spared no expense in making the film, with large numbers of costumed extras and recreations of Mardi Gras. The studio's high standard of action scenes and special effects miniatures come to the fore in the fight scenes and flood climax. The film mixes the romance and action with a comedic touch, with Wayne performing a light, Walking Tall type scenario. A 1941 Time magazine review noted the similarities between Wayne's Thomas E. Dewey type character and Huey Long.