Julian English, an automobile dealer who drinks too much. He picks fights with his friends and benefactors, gets publicly drunk, drives his wife to seek a divorce, and chases after a bootlegger’s woman. When his acts add up and life becomes too complicated for him, he commits suicide.
Caroline English, a woman as superficial as her husband. When she decides to seek a divorce from her husband, she acts like a heroine in melodrama, cancelling a big party on short notice.
Harry Reilly, a wealthy Irish Catholic. At a party, Julian throws a drink in his face, despite the fact that Reilly has befriended him and lent him the money needed to keep his Cadillac agency solvent. Julian seems a bit surprised when Reilly holds a grudge.
Helene Holman, a nightclub singer and bootlegger’s woman. She and Julian get together while drunk at a Christmas celebration.
Ed Charney, a bootlegger. Though a family man, he keeps Helene as his mistress and is resentful of the favors she shows other men. He becomes angry at his aide, Al Grecco, for letting Helene become involved with Julian.
Al Grecco, a small-time gangster who becomes angry at Charney’s insults and vows to kill him.
Froggy Ogden, Caroline English’s one-armed cousin, who tries to goad Julian into a fight after reproaching him for his conduct.
Dr. English, Julian’s father, who looks for moral weakness in his son because his own father was an embezzler and a suicide.
Father Creedon, a priest who agrees with Julian that Harry Reilly is a bore. He refuses to take the incident of Julian’s insulting Reilly seriously.