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The Front (1976)

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.

Director:

Martin Ritt
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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:
Woody Allen ... Howard Prince
Zero Mostel ... Hecky Brown
Herschel Bernardi ... Phil Sussman
Michael Murphy ... Alfred Miller
Andrea Marcovicci ... Florence Barrett
Remak Ramsay Remak Ramsay ... Francis X. Hennessey
Marvin Lichterman Marvin Lichterman ... Myer Prince
Lloyd Gough ... Herbert Delaney
David Margulies ... William Phelps
Joshua Shelley Joshua Shelley ... Sam - Resort Operator
Norman Rose Norman Rose ... Howard's Attorney
Charles Kimbrough ... Committee Counselor
Josef Sommer ... Committee Chairman (as M. Josef Sommer)
Danny Aiello ... Danny LaGattuta
Georgann Johnson ... 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:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

January 1977 (Austria) See more »

Also Known As:

El testaferro See more »

Filming Locations:

New York City, New York, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Black and White | Color (Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) was abolished in 1975. This dramatic picture was made and first released in 1976, as was also Hollywood on Trial (1976), a documentary made about the McCarthy-era black-listing. See more »

Goofs

The second taxi cab shown prominently is a mid-1970's Checker A12, as evidenced by the side reflectors and the large bumpers. The correct Checker for 1953 would be the model A6, which resembled late 1940's GM products. See more »

Quotes

Hecky Brown: [after gulping a glass of scotch] You know, I never learned how to sip a drink. When I was very little, every evening before supper my father would pour a shot glass full of whiskey, mumble a prayer,
[He emulates his father by mumbling in Yiddish]
Hecky Brown: and down it went! I thought that was the way you drank.
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

Featured in The Making of 'The Front' (1976) See more »

Soundtracks

Come On Daisy
Music by Carrie Hoffman
Lyrics by Ira Gassman
Performed by Zero Mostel
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A bookie/cashier becomes involved in the '50s Red Scare
26 September 2006 | by blanche-2See all my reviews

Woody Allen is "The Front" for blacklisted television writers in the 1950s in a film also starring Zero Mostel, Herschel Bernardi, Andrea Marcovicci, and Michael Murphy. Several of the film's participants - director Ritt, writer Bernstein, actors Bernardi and Mostel, were themselves blacklisted.

Woody's character, Howard Prince, has moments of humor, but "The Front" is a drama, and a very good one. Prince agrees to front for a writer-friend and later takes on other blacklisted writers for money. Then comes the day that Prince himself is subpoenaed by the committee, and he has to make a decision about where he stands.

Along the way, Howard falls in love with a principled woman, Marcovicci, who becomes disgusted with the blacklist and quits her television job, and a pathetic comedian, Zero Mostel, who claims to have marched in a May Day parade and subscribed to a communist newspaper because he had a crush on a girl. Then he watches his career shrivel up.

I grew up in the '50s and remember the Red Scare very well, as in school we were always told that the Communists were coming. In Hollywood and Washington, it was believed that the Communists were here infiltrating our government, films, and television. Whether it was true or not is a separate issue from the persecution and hysteria that took place. Actress Lee Grant, for instance, was blacklisted because she went to a funeral of someone who had been accused of being a Communist. John Garfield, Kim Hunter, Gale Sondergaard, Mady Christians, Larry Parks - just a few of the actors blacklisted. There are many examples of people whose careers and lives were ruined because they had once attended a meeting to see what this political ideology was all about, or had a friend who was a Communist. Land of the free indeed.


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