This earnest, socially conscious road drama directed by William Wellman centers on two California teenagers who find their comfortable lives thrown into turmoil during the Great Depression. The adventurous lads sneak aboard a Chicago-bound train and soon hook up with several other youths just like them, including two streetwise girls. After being kicked off the train in Ohio, the youths use sewer pipe and other found commodities to build a little city, their own private utopia where no one has more than anyone else. Tragedy forces the group to disband until only the original two boys and one of the girls actually make it to New York. But by this time they are no longer opportunistic adventurers; they are only hungry, tired, and deeply depressed. Desperate, they join a ring of thieves but are caught and sent to a kindly judge who finally instills in them the sense of hope they will need to go on.