A working-class Italian-American bouncer becomes the driver for an African-American classical pianist on a tour of venues through the 1960s American South.
In 1962, tough bouncer Frank "Tony Lip" Vallelonga searches for work while his nightclub is closed for renovations. The most promising offer turns out to be the driver for African-American classical pianist Don Shirley for a concert tour into the Deep South states. Although hardly enthused at working for a Black man, Tony accepts the job and they begin their trek armed with "The Negro Motorist Green Book," a guide for safe travel through Americas racial segregation. The snobbishly erudite pianist and the crudely practical bouncer can barely get along with their clashing attitudes to life and ideals. However, as the disparate pair witness and endure Americas appalling injustices on the road, they find a newfound respect for each others talents and start to face them together. In doing so, they nurture an understanding and a friendship that would change both their lives.
New York City bouncer Frank "Tony Lip" Vallelonga is searching for new employment after his nightclub is closed for renovations, eventually landing an interview as a driver for "Doc" Don Shirley, a famed pianist. Their first encounter does not go well, as Tonys flippant, uncultured behavior clashes with Dons sophisticated, reserved demeanor. However, Don eventually hires Tony on the strength of others word, as he needs someone to help him stay out of trouble during an eight-week concert tour through the Deep South. They embark with plans to return home on Christmas Eve. Dons recording studio gives Tony a copy of the "Green Book": a guide for Black travelers to find safe havens throughout the segregated South. As they begin the tour in the Midwest, then head further south, Tony and Don clash over their differences; Tony feels uncomfortable being asked to act properly, while Don is disgusted by Tonys habits. Regardless, Tony finds himself impressed with Dons talent on the piano--and increasingly disgusted by the discriminatory treatment the latter receives from the hosts when he is not on stage. After a bar incident leads to a group of white men threatening Dons life, Tony rescues him by threatening to pull a gun on them. He instructs Don not to go out without him for the rest of the tour.