In this war drama set during the French Resistance of WW II, a courageous fighter escapes Gestapo headquarters and returns to Marseille. There he and his gang capture a traitor and throttle him. They then try to rescue a Resistance fighter in Lyons. As they do so, the hero is again captured and his partner killed.
Again the hero escapes just before he is executed. He then finds that a female partner has been captured. To avoid having her daughter forced to work in a Nazi brothel, the woman has informed upon the others. She is then released and subsequently killed by another Resistance fighter for revenge.
The screenplay is based on Joseph Kessel's novel and became filmmaker Jean Pierre Melville's magnum opus.