The Front

( 2 )

Overview

The McCarthy-era "witch hunts" in the entertainment industry set the stage for this comedy drama set in the 1950s. Howard Prince Woody Allen is a cashier at a corner bar who works as a small-time bookie on the side, with little success. One day, Howard's old friend Alfred Miller Michael Murphy, a successful television writer, makes a business proposal to him; Alfred's leftist political views have resulted in him being blacklisted from the major television networks, and he can no longer get work. Alfred asks ...
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Overview

The McCarthy-era "witch hunts" in the entertainment industry set the stage for this comedy drama set in the 1950s. Howard Prince Woody Allen is a cashier at a corner bar who works as a small-time bookie on the side, with little success. One day, Howard's old friend Alfred Miller Michael Murphy, a successful television writer, makes a business proposal to him; Alfred's leftist political views have resulted in him being blacklisted from the major television networks, and he can no longer get work. Alfred asks Howard to act as a "front" -- Howard puts his name on Alfred's scripts, sells them, and takes a cut of the payment for his trouble. Howard's new career as a "writer" is an instant success, and soon Howard is fronting for a handful of blacklisted scribes while earning a healthy income and becoming the toast of the television industry; another fringe benefit is a romance with beautiful network employee Florence Barrett Andrea Marcovicci. However, comic Hecky Brown Zero Mostel, who had a brief fling with socialism years before, now finds his past catching up with him, and he's told in order to save his job as host of a weekly television show, he has to get the goods on some suspicious figures, among them Howard Prince, whose background looks a little too clean for comfort. The Front was written by Walter Bernstein, who was himself blacklisted during the 1950s, as were co-stars Zero Mostel, Herschel Bernardi, and Lloyd Gough.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Perry Seibert
The Front is not about politics. It is about survival. Director Martin Ritt, star Zero Mostel, screenwriter Walter Bernstein, and many other talents involved with The Front were victims of the Hollywood blacklist. With this film, they take their collective pain and fashion a comedy born out of desperation, history, and personal pride. They, along with lead actor Woody Allen, manage to find honest laughs in a most painful period from these men's lives. When filmmakers explain a particular injustice, the audience is enlightened; when they display that injustice happening to someone the audience cares about, viewers respond with sympathy; having that character see the mordant humor in the injustice, comment on it, and still refuse to buckle to it (even though the temptation to do so is huge) makes a hero. That is what these filmmakers achieve. Very few films are this adept at finding humor in characters whose lives are so seriously compromised. Coming from people who survived such a painful time -- people tempted by that compromise -- The Front is more than a history lesson, a comedy, or a successful group therapy session. Its existence is a validation of both art and life.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 8/6/1996
  • UPC: 043396601895
  • Original Release: 1976
  • Rating:

  • Source: Sony Pictures
  • Format: VHS

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Woody Allen Howard Prince
Zero Mostel Hecky Brown
Herschel Bernardi Phil Sussman
Michael Murphy Alfred Miller
Andrea Marcovicci Florence Barrett
Remak Ramsay Hennessey
Marvin Lichterman Myer Prince
Lloyd Gough Delaney
David Margulies Phelps
Joshua Shelley Sam
Josef Sommer Committee Chairman
Danny Aiello Danny La Gattuta
Georgann Johnson TV Interviewer
Scott McKay Hampton
John Bentley Bartender
Jacob Bernstein Alfred's Child
William Bogert Parks
David Clarke Hubert Jackson
Jack Davidson Congressman
MacIntyre Dixon Harry Stone
Donald Symington Congressman
Joey Faye Waiter
Lucy Lee Flippin Nurse
Julie Garfield Margo
Polly Holliday
Joe Jamrog FBI Man
Charles Kimbrough Committee Counselor
Sam McMurray Young Man at Party
J. Patrick McNamara Federal Marshall
Michael Miller FBI Man
Murray Moston Boss
Albert M. Ottenheimer
Norman Rose Howard's Attorney
John Slater TV Director
Marilyn Sokol Sandy
Matthew Tobin Man at Party
Rudolph Willrich Tallman
Technical Credits
Martin Ritt Director, Producer
Charles Bailey Art Director
Tom Beckert Sound/Sound Designer
Walter Bernstein Screenwriter
Michael Chapman Cinematographer
Robert Drumheller Set Decoration/Design
Walter Goss Sound/Sound Designer
Robert Greenhut Associate Producer
Dave Grusin Score Composer
Robert Jiras Makeup
Charles H. Joffe Producer
Sid Levin Editor
Ruth Morley Costumes/Costume Designer
Jack Rollins Executive Producer
James J. Sabat Sound/Sound Designer
Peter R. Scoppa Asst. Director
James Stewart Sound/Sound Designer
Juliet Taylor Casting
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 2 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2003

    A sad reminder of our past brilliantly done

    Yes, this is a Woody Allen movie and, yes, we have Woody as the underdog who meets the intelligent and beautiful girl. But there is far more to this movie than that. We have a set of characters who have been blacklisted by the HUAC who are writers. They have Woody's character front for them by putting his name on their scripts. What happens then is the movie exposing the tragedies of some of these characters including Zero Mostel who, in my opinion, gives us an Oscar winning performance as a blacklisted comedian who is ''removed'' from a telelvision program because of his background being discovered and then unable to find suitable work. Mostel is simply brilliant - but when wasn't he? As for Woody, he moves from a low class to someone making money and moving into a swank apartment in Manhatten. But even Woody finally sees the light of day when he is summoned to appear at a House on UnAmerican Committee hearing and tells it like it is. At the end he is no longer fronting for anyone; he becomes himself. As mentioned in the initial review, many of the cast members were victims of McCarthyism and the black list of the early 1950's. This is a must movie to either rent or buy on DVD. It will enlighten those who are not familiar with this period of American history and perhaps wake them up to what could be happening right now if we are not careful. I have put the live London performance of Bernstein's ''Candide'' which also goes to a degree into this sad period of American history. In fact, it was that ''ism'' - McCarthyism that motivated Bernstein and his friends to put together this work.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews