Directed by Akira Kurosawa, a painter and a singer are framed by a tabloid as having an affair. The painter sues for libel; but his defense attorney has an ill daughter, and he compromises himself.
Ichiro Aoye (Toshiro Mifune) paints on a mountain as three men watch. He gives singer Miyako Saijo (Yoshiko Yamaguchi) a ride on his motorcycle to an inn. Wearing robes, they are photographed on her balcony, and a tabloid magazine exposes their “secret love.” Ichiro goes to the magazine office, reads a copy, and hits the publisher Hori (Eitaro Ozawa). Ichiro tells reporters the story is lies. If they do not apologize, he will sue. Ichiro talks it over with Miyako, who wants to avoid scandal. He says he will sue alone. Sumie (Noriko Sengoku) tells Ichido she likes posing nude for him.
Attorney Hiruta (Takashi Shimura) calls on Ichido and offers to take his case. Ichiro goes to Hiruta’s house and meets his daughter Masako Hiruta (Yoko Katsuragi), who has tuberculosis. Ichiro goes to Hiruta’s shabby office on a roof and writes a note he is hiring him. Miyako practices for her concert that is sold out because of the scandal. Ichido’s art show gets attention too.
Hiruta goes to Hori, who notes that Miyako is not suing. Hiruta takes gifts to his daughter, who says that Ichido came to see her. She fears that her father has done something wrong. He says he tricks others. Hiruta says that Hori is vile, but he gave in to him. Hiruta avoids Ichido and goes to the races to meet Hori, who gives him money.
Miyako wants to buy Ichido’s mountain painting, but Sumie says it is not for sale. Hiruta goes to Ichido and says they need Miyako as co-plaintiff. Hori is angry at Hiruta and says he is working for both sides. On his motorcycle Ichido takes a Christmas tree to Masako Hiruta. Her father hears Miyako singing “Silent Night” as Ichido plays the organ. Hiruta says he is wretched and runs off to drink more. Another drunk and he say they will do better in the new year. They and Ichido sing “Auld Lang Syne.”
The trial begins. Hiruta does poorly, but the defense has several witnesses who saw them together. Hiruta is denounced. Masako cries, and Hiruta’s wife (Tanie Kitabayashi) tells Ichido that Masako suspects that her father is cheating him. Ichido says that Hiruta is just weak.
Three men testify who were present when Ichido and Miyako met. The defense attorney, Dr. Kataoka (Sugisaku Aoyama), asks Hiruta why they were not called earlier. Sumie tells Ichido she warned him. Ichido revs up his motorcycle. Miyako says they can appeal. Hiruta comes in and says that Masako died saying that Ichido would win.
In court Ichido speaks for Hiruta and says they are innocent and that he has faith in the law. Co-plaintiff Miyako does not speak. Dr. Kataoka sums up the defense. Hiruta asks to testify and shows the check for 100,000 yen that Hori gave him. Hiruta confesses that he was negligent. After winning, Ichido tells reporters that he saw a star being born.
This drama shows the influence of American journalism and its legal system on Japan during the post-war occupation. The emotional lawyer is taken to different extremes by his feelings.