The Hoodlum is tailor-made for the roughneck talents of actor Lawrence Tierney. The film details the rise and fall of a habitual criminal, and the havoc he wreaks on the lives of his loved ones. Things really go downhill when the "hero" (Tierney) seduces and abandons his brother's sweetheart (Allene Roberts), whereupon the girl commits suicide. Lawrence Tierney's "reel" brother is played by his real brother Edward; presumably, Tierney's more famous sibling Scott Brady was occupied elsewhere. The best performance is delivered by Lisa Golm as the Hoodlum's long-suffering mother.