In 1962 New York City, bouncer Tony Lip searches for new employment while the Copacabana is closed for renovations. He is invited to an interview with Dr. Don Shirley, a black pianist in need of a driver for his eight-week concert tour through the Midwest and Deep South. Don hires Tony on the strength of his references. They embark with plans to return to New York City on Christmas Eve. Don’s record label gives Tony a copy of the Green Book, a guide for African-American travelers to find motels, restaurants, and filling stations that would serve them.
They begin the tour in the Midwest before eventually heading farther south. Tony and Don initially clash as Tony feels uncomfortable being asked to act with more refinement, while Don is disgusted by Tony’s habits. As the tour progresses, Tony is impressed with Don’s talent on the piano and is increasingly appalled by the discriminatory treatment which Don receives from his hosts and the general public when he is not on stage. A group of white men beat Don and threaten his life in a bar and Tony rescues him. He instructs Don not to go out without him for the rest of the tour.
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