Woody Allen stars as Howard Prince, a small-time restaurant cashier, part-time bookie and full-time loser who is induced by a writer-friend to "front" for the submission of his TV scripts when he is blacklisted as an alleged subversive. Howard is soon "fronting" for other writers. He becomes a celebrity and is lionized as television's most brilliant and prolific young author. But when popular TV comic Hecky Brown (Zero Mostel) is blacklisted and his career is threatened, he agrees to keep Howard under surveillance. Howard is then summoned to appear before an investigative committee and his stand before them brings about an unexpected dramatic conclusion.