"You know, considering you’re a crook and a horror, you’re really nice company."
Description: Shirley Jones as Linda Cabot offers up a kind sentiment about union boss Jake Maclllaney (James Cagney) in the motion picture Never Steal Anything Small (1958).
Jake MacIllaney is a rough, tough New York City Waterfront racketeer who lives in a world musclemen and molls, and he is used to getting what he wants. And what he wants is to become the president of local Union 26.
To rustle up more votes, Jake extorts $10,000 from Charlie "Sleepout" Barnes (Jack Albertson) so he can have the money to put on a big rally and defeat the current union president, O.K. Merritt (Horace McMahon). But Jake's plan backfires and the police arrest him on extortion charges.
Meanwhile, Jake devises a plan to get Sleep-out out of town, knowing that if he is a no show at the trial, the charges will be dropped. But when his new lawyer, Dan Cabot (Roger Smith) decides to quit and thus get a continuance, that ruins his plans and so Jake tries to charm his lawyer to stay on the case. That is when Jake meets Linda, Dan's attractive wife, and it is love at first sight.
Well, when Jake wants something he gets it, so after he convinces Dan to remain his lawyer, wins the election and Jake begins to weave his web so that Dan is caught in a compromising position with Winnepeg Simmons (Cara Williams), one of Jake's lady associates who gets Dan drunk. Infuriated at seeing another woman kissing her husband, Linda threatens divorce. This is just fine with Jake, who moves in for the kill, trying to wine and dine her.
"If I didn't use the same kind of weapons that are being used against me, the Union would be the hands of crooks bigger than I am." - Jake MacIllaney
Later, Jake steals $750,000 worth of watches from the docks, convinces the insurance company they were lost, arranges for Dan to sell them on the black market and then blames him for theft. But when the longshoremen think that Dan acted on their behalf to give the Union members more funds, Dan becomes a hero. Now, Jake see this as an opportunity, so he confesses to the theft and wins the favor of the union longshoremen.
In the end, Jake is sentenced to two years, but retains the loyalty of his constituents. And, of course, Linda and Dan reconcile and live happlily ever after.