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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.

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 {J-26}

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

What if there were a list? A list that said: Our finest actors weren't allowed to act. Our best writers weren't allowed to write. What would it be like if there were such a list. It would be like America in 1953. 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

This was Woody Allen's first straight dramatic role. 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

Howard Prince: Swimming's not a sport, swimming's what you do so that you shouldn't drown.
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 Manhattan (1979) 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

 
Classic drama, rife with paranoia
29 June 2006 | by The_VoidSee all my reviews

I don't profess to know anything more about 'the McCarthy era' than any other non-American that wasn't around in the fifties, but this film serves as both a great slice of entertainment; and something of a history lesson. The film is said to be a comedy, although it would seem to be played out more for the drama side as aside from Woody Allen's usual neurotic quips; there aren't actually any jokes in the film. That certainly doesn't harm it, however, as Martin Ritt's film has more than enough in reserve, as the story is interesting enough on it's own; and themes of 'the witch-hunt', as well as the idea of being guilty until proved innocent shine through. The story follows Howard Prince (Woody Allen) a cashier who, when asked by his friend who is on the 'blacklist', poses as a TV writer so the blacklisted writer can still work. The film takes place in the time when paranoia over communism was rife in America, and anyone that is suspected of associating with communists was no longer allowed to work. The scam goes on, but the more Prince is dragged into it, the harder it is for him to get out.

Like I say, I didn't know much about the era before going into the film; but I'm sure it's an important part of American history; if only for the fact that it's inspired a lot of great films, including the great original version of 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers'. I've been a big fan of Woody Allen ever since I first saw one of his films, and his performance here takes in all the best elements of his persona. The character; a talentless man garnering praise for someone else's work, suits Allen's personality like a glove, as the paranoid actor gets to show us how neurotic he can be. Support comes by way of the likes of Zero Mostel, Michael Murphy and Andrea Marcovicci; and all give nice supporting performances. Director Michael Ritt ensures that the themes of the story are always rife, as the film presents a great sense of foreboding, and scenes such as the one that see an innocent writer told that he can't be got off the hook because he hasn't done anything help to ensure this. On the whole, The Front is a great classic film, and sees Allen in one of his best roles.


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