Paolo Bianchi, an average man, picks up in the street a clandestine newspaper: as he lives in northern Italy during the Nazi occupation, he's mistaken for a communist,searched and beaten by the police. A friend with influence manages to have him set free, but now Paolo has a positive notoriety among the Partisans. To save him from further trouble his friend gives him a document that corroborates his strong loyalty to the current regime: the safe passage he thus gets helps, although inadvertently, the partisans in several occasions. Then the Allies come and, what else, they accuse him of being a collaborator, and arrest him. The friend comes to the rescue...