Vincent Lubeck (Lawrence Tierney) is a career criminal who has recently been released from prison. He would not have gotten out had it not been for the pleas of his elderly mother. He gets a job working at his brother's gas station. Bored and jealous of his brother, he steals his brother's girlfriend, impregnates her and refuses to get married. This causes the girl to commit suicide.
Vincent Lubeck becomes very interested in the armored car that makes regular stops at the bank across the street, and he plans a heist with some of his criminal buddies. He flirts with a secretary who works at the bank, knowing that she will provide useful information.
With the money in hand, the conspirators start to turn on Lubeck.
His criminal activities are despised by his family, and they will no longer help him. He is on his own. Eventually his own brother will stand up to him.
The manhunt is on... will he escape, return to prison, or get killed?
Lawrence Tierney as Vincent Lubeck
Allene Roberts as Rosa
Marjorie Riordan as Eileen
Lisa Golm as Mrs. Lubeck
Edward Tierney as Johnny Lubeck
Stuart Randall as Police Lt. Burdick
Angela Stevens as Christie Lang
John De Simone as Marty Connell
Tom Hubbard as Police Sgt. Schmidt
Eddie Foster as Mickey Sessions
O.Z. Whitehead as Mr. Breckenridge
Richard Barron as Eddie Bright
Rudy Rama as Harry Hill
Film critic Dennis Schwartz generally liked the film due to the work of actor Lawrence Tierney, writing, "The Hoodlum is a gangster film which passes for film noir because of the protagonist's dark nature, lack of loyalty and violent anti-social behavior ... The cheaply made film tells an old story and adds nothing fresh, but it was presented with force. Aside from Lawrence Tierney's finely tuned, menacing performance, the acting was sub par. It was Tierney's performance that kept the film alive in the tradition of the old-fashioned gangsters like those portrayed by Cagney and Robinson."