Marcia Jeffries (Patricia Neal) is the creator and on air host of a local northeast Arkansas radio program called 'A Face in the Crowd', where she finds the common man to perform on air. For the show, she finds a country drifter name Larry 'Lonesome' Rhodes (Andy Griffith), whose improvised songs and straight from the heart talk - often anti-establishment - captures the imagination of the radio listening public. But as Lonesome's fame increases - which includes becoming a regional television personality to a national commentator of social good to a political adviser to an aspiring politician - his true nature comes to light, that of a vain, self-important man who has contempt for the public, who he believes he can manipulate into thinking anything, and anyone who stands in his way. Conversely, many are wanting to get whatever pound of flesh they can from Lonesome. Marcia is there with him as he navigates through his rise to fame, but she may have some say in what ultimately happens in his life, especially as it starts to affect her.