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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

Star Billing: Woody Allen (1st), Zero Mostel (2nd), Herschel Bernardi (3rd), Michael Murphy (4th) and Andrea Marcovicci (5th). 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's Attorney: This friend of yours, Alfred Miller...
Howard Prince: We went to school together.
Howard's Attorney: And you had no idea that he was a Communist?
Howard Prince: He was only 12.
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 At the Movies: Episode #10.1 (2013) See more »

Soundtracks

Young at Heart
Sung by Frank Sinatra
Music by Johnny Richards
Lyrics by Carolyn Leigh
Arranged and Conducted by Nelson Riddle (uncredited)
See more »

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User Reviews

A funny and savage indictment of a crazy era
30 August 2001 | by GyranSee 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.


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