7.4/10
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The Front (1976)

PG | | Drama | January 1977 (Austria)
In 1953, 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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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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...
...
Phil Sussman
...
...
Remak Ramsay ...
Francis X. Hennessey
Marvin Lichterman ...
Myer Prince
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Herbert Delaney
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William Phelps
Joshua Shelley ...
Sam - Resort Operator
Norman Rose ...
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Committee Counselor
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Committee Chairman (as M. Josef Sommer)
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Danny LaGattuta
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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 | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

America's Most Unlikely Hero. See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

January 1977 (Austria)  »

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

Though cast with two comedians, this picture was not a comedy, according to director Martin Ritt, who once said, "instead, what the audience will get is a film filled with bitterness and irony that reflect the ludicrousness of the time of the blacklist". See more »

Goofs

Investigator Hennessey (as his name is spelled in the credits) is shown sitting at his desk on which there is a nameplate which reads Francis K. Hennessy. See more »

Quotes

Florence Barrett: A writer looks for trouble.
Howard Prince: No, wrong. A lunatic looks for trouble.
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 The Simpsons: The Front (1993) See more »

Soundtracks

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

 
Not funny but a great movie
2 August 2004 | by See all my reviews

Fictionalized look about the 1950s blacklist. Woody Allen (in a rare dramatic role) plays a man who sells the scripts of blacklisted writers under his name. He splits the proceeds with the writers. He's apolitical--he's just doing it to help friends. Then he starts to see how horrible the blacklist is and how it's destroying people and careers. He wants to take a stand--but how can he?

This is often mentioned as being a comedy. In that respect, it fails. There was nothing funny about the blacklist. But, as a drama with light moments, it works. It moves quickly, is well written (by a former blacklisted writer), well-directed (by another blacklisted man) and stars two blacklisted actors! Basically these people know what happened so that actually helps. Allen is surprisingly good in a dramatic role--who knew he had it in him? He tones down all his mannerisms and delivers a very controlled, nicely done job. Andrea Marcovicci (whatever happened to her?) is also good playing his girlfriend. And Michael Murphy is excellent as one of the blacklisted writers. And Zero Mostel is just superb as a blacklisted actor. The pain and confusion shows plainly on his face. This was also one of his last films---he died 2 years later of a heart attack. Also look for Danny Aiello in a small role. The 1950s era is captured beautifully, the film looks great and they have Frank Sinatra singing (ironically) "Young at Heart" at the beginning and end of the film. Great final line too.

But I'm only giving this a 9. The script is good but a little too simplistic and painted in very broad strokes. The bad guys are evil to the core and all the blacklisted people are shown as being victims. That's NOT how it was. They were probably writing down to appeal to a mainstream audience but went too far.

This bombed badly back in 1976--it's easy to see why. The subject matter is too strong for most audiences and the movie company (I heard) was completely at a loss on how to deal with this. Just a year before an entire blacklisting sequence was cut from "The Way We Were". Sadly Hollywood was STILL touchy about this subject in the 1970s.

This should be seen by more people--it really deserves to be discovered. A lot of people don't even KNOW about the blacklist. Well worth seeing.


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