A cashier poses as a writer for blacklisted talents to submit their work through, but the injustice around him pushes him to take a stand.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Herschel Bernardi ...
Phil Sussman
...
Alfred Miller
...
Remak Ramsay ...
Hennessey
Marvin Lichterman ...
Myer Prince
Lloyd Gough ...
Delaney
...
Phelps
Joshua Shelley ...
Sam
Norman Rose ...
Howard's Attorney
...
Committee Counselor
...
Committee Chairman (as M. Josef Sommer)
...
Danny LaGattuta
...
T. V. Interviewer
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Storyline

In the early 1950s Howard Prince, who works in a restaurant, helps out a black-listed writer friend by selling a TV station a script under his own name. The money is useful in paying off gambling debts, so he takes on three more such clients. Howard is politically pretty innocent, but involvement with Florence - who quits TV in disgust over things - and friendship with the show's ex-star - now himself blacklisted - make him start to think about what is really going on. Written by Jeremy Perkins <jwp@aber.ac.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

America's Most Unlikely Hero.

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

17 September 1976 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El testaferro  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

| (Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The movie was made and released about fifteen years before Irwin Winkler's Guilty by Suspicion (1991) starring Robert De Niro which covered the same subject matter of the McCarthy era, blacklisting, and the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). See more »

Goofs

An establishing shot up the Bowery to the Peter Cooper statue (before the script exchange) doesn't include the El tracks, which would have still been present until the Third Avenue El made its last run in May 1955. See more »

Quotes

Florence Barrett: Do you want a drink?
Howard Prince: [Distracted and worried] Yeah, but just a drink.
See more »

Crazy Credits

During the credits the people involved with the movie who were blacklisted are listed along with the year they were blacklisted. See more »

Connections

Referenced in I Am Woody (2003) See more »

Soundtracks

Anything for a Laugh
Sung by Zero Mostel
Music by Carrie Hoffman
Lyrics by Ira Gassman
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User Reviews

A funny and savage indictment of a crazy era
30 August 2001 | by (Birmingham, England) – See all my reviews

This film is directed by Martin Ritt from a screenplay by Walter Bernstein. Both director and writer, along with several members of the cast, were blacklisted during the 1950s. Woody Allen stars as Howard Prince a good-for-nothing restaurant cashier and part-time bookmaker. At the start of this film, Allen has the total schmuck persona that he used in many of his earlier films but as the film progresses he gradually develops a conscience until the ‘happy' ending when he performs an honorable act and is led away to prison. Ritt and Bernstein are highlighting the idiocy of the blacklist by having as their hero the money-grabbing, self-serving Prince. Eventually, even he cannot stomach what is going on in the name of decency and freedom. The film is darkly humorous and chilling in its depiction of an era when the owner of a small grocery store could dictate to a national network who it could and could not employ. At one point Prince has to rewrite a script about the holocaust because the programme sponsor is a gas company.

The film is a real achievement being both funny and a savage indictment of a crazy era, told with feeling by people who lived through it and suffered under it. The only misjudged performance is Zero Mostel's maudlin comedian. Michael Murphy turns up again as he does in many of Allen's early films. Andrea Marcovicci is effective as the beautiful and cerebral script editor who falls for Prince. Prince agonises over whether she loves the man or the artist, surely the inspiration for Allen's own exploration of the same theme in Bullets over Broadway nearly 20 years later.


12 of 15 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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