It`s about the anti-Semitism of prosperous post-war America and the insidious way jews were excluded from high-level social clubs, resorts, and, of course, jobs. There have been no official bans, only a nod and wink and a « gentleman`s agreement » between non-Jews of conservative wasps that they know the kind of people they want to be associated with. This is the kind of everyday prejudice that Groucho Marx elegantly retaliated with his joke that he didn`t want to join a club that would have him as a member. Philip Schuyler Green, a widowed journalist, comes to New York city with his son Tommy and his mother from California to work for Smith`s Weekly, a leading national magazine. John Minify, the publisher, wants Phil to write a series about anti-Semitism, but Phil is lukewarm on the order. At a party, Phil Minify`s niece meets Kathy Lacy, a divorcee attracted to Phil, and Kathy reminds her uncle that she proposed the series some time ago. Tommy asks his father about anti-Semitism, and when Phil struggles to explain it, he decides to accept the mission. However, he is frustrated by his inability to find a satisfying approach, as he and Minify want the series to go beyond simply discovering the « crackpot » mentality. After trying to imagine what his Jewish childhood friend Dave Goldman, now in the military abroad, must feel when he experiences bigotry, Phil decides to write from a Jewish perspective. However, he continues to struggle to write until he realizes that certain things can never be known until they are experienced first-hand, and that the only way to live the necessary experience is to appear Jewish in the eyes of others.
When Minify announces the series of a midday band, Phil incidentally mentions that he is Jewish. Later, Phil learns from his new secretary that he was told there was no job in the magazine when she applied under her real name Estelle Walofsky, but when she applied again with Ethel Wales, she got the job. On his first day as a Jew, Phil becomes the target of insults and learns discriminatory rules in his building. When he tells Kathy, whom he fell in love with, about his « Angle » story, she is at first confused that he can really be Jewish. The next day, the human resources director of Minify`s magazine was reprimanded for his policy of not hiring Jewish secretaries, and was told that any future announcement should contain the line « Religion is a matter of indifference. » But when Miss Wales learns of the change in policy, her fear that a Jew « Kikey » will ruin things for her prompts Phil to declare that he hates the anti-Semitism of her and a non-Jew. Later, Kathy, to whom Phil is now engaged, tells Phil that her sister Jane in Darien, Connecticut, has scheduled a party for her next Saturday, and Phil reluctantly agrees to allow Kathy to talk to Jane about the ruse. When Kathy asks Phil not to talk about anti-Semitism at her sister`s party, Phil and Kathy refuse to insult him because he is being argued. Soon after, Dave arrives on vacation in the city looking for a home, as he has been offered a job in the sector. When Phil tells him about the show and says that as a Jew, he rubbed his « nose in it and doesn`t like the smell, » Dave says he`s just not « isolated » yet. Phil and Dave meet Anne at a restaurant where a drunk guest calls Dave a « yid » and Dave forcibly stabs him. After that, Phil receives a call from Kathy who says she is in Connecticut to confront Jane.
When Phil arrives at Jane`s party in Darien, he is surprised that the guests are interested in the series, but Kathy does not reveal that Jane showed the guests and only invited the « safe ». Two days before Phils and Kathy`s wedding, Anne`s couple learns that the Flume Inn where they plan their honeymoon is « restricted, » meaning Jews aren`t allowed, but when Phil`s mother has a small stroke, the wedding is still postponed.