I'm sure that you'll agree with me when I say that being on the
Hollywood blacklist is a very bad thing indeed. You
can't work. You can't provide for your family. And all in all you're somewhat
constrained in earning a living.
So tell me something: if you were a scriptwriter on the
blacklist, who would you turn to for help? Practically illiterate bookmaker, Howard
Prince (Woody Allen), perhaps? Because he does have some free time around his
cashiers job, to 'front' your work for you! Yeah. Well, that's what Alfred Miller (Michael Murphy) does. And in no time at all this very cunning ruse
works like a treat.
Yes sir-re-Bob! You name it. Howard does it. 'His scripts' get turned into television shows. 'His talent' wins the affections of script editor, Florence Barrett (Andrea Marcovicci). His new found fame allows him to pay off all of his debts. Plus top it all off, Howard does so well with this ploy, that two other blacklist writers have need of his services also!
Though, isn't it a shame that one of the actors who performs one of 'Howard' scripts', Hecky Brown (Zero Mostel), can't do likewise? He's been earmarked for the
Hollywood blacklist as well
you see. And the only way out of it for him, is if he spies on Howard, and get
some 'dirt' for the head communist man-hunter himself, Phil Sussman (Herschel
Ouch! Still, that's most probably why what next transpires all rolls around when Hecky and Howard go to a gig together in the Catskills. As relationships come apart - television stations have a waning heart - actors reluctantly take a fall - and at the end of the day a practically illiterate bookmaker really does surprise us all.
'F*CK OFF' -- See?
[Sorry -- No Trailer for this one]
Now before I tell you what I think about 'The Front', please allow me give you some filmic-facts first.This picture was released by 'Columbia' on the 17th September, 1976. (2) Quite a few of the people involved with this production were on the
blacklists. Such as director: Martin Ritt; writer: Walter Bernstein;
and actors Zero Mostel, Joshua Shelley, Lloyd
Gough and Herschel Bernardi. (3) According to
screenwriter, Walter Bernstein, the three 'deli writers' were a mixture of
himself, Abraham Polonsky, and Arnold Manoff, as they were all blacklisted
due to the actions of the HUAC, whilst they co-wrote the fifties television
series 'You Are There'. (4) Some of the scenes in this film were
drawn from real-life events. For example, the scene where Hecky is cheated out
of some money after playing at a gig at the mountain resort; was based on Walter
Bernstein's own experience playing in the Catskill's. Also, the suicide scene
was based on the death of blacklist actor, Philip Loeb. (5) The cinematographer
on this film, Michael Chapman, also shot such films as 'Raging Bull' and 'Taxi
Driver' for Martin Scorsese, plus 'Jaws' for Steven Spielberg. (6) This was one
of many productions that both Charles H. Joffe and Jack Rollins produced for
Woody Allen -- such as 'Manhattan' for instance [click on link for the review]. (7) Dave
Grusin composed the film score for this movie as well as for others like 'On
Golden Pond', 'Tootsie', 'The Graduate' and 'The Goonies'. (8) Although this
film wasn't highly praised upon its release, it did receive some notable mentions
from the industry. Walter Bernstein was nominated for an Academy Award for
'Writing Original Screenplay'. Andrea Marcovicci was nominated for a Golden
Globe Award for 'New Star of the Year -- Actress Category'. And Zero Mostel was
nominated for a BAFTA Award for 'Best Supporting Actor'.
(9) This was the last full-feature for comedic actor, Zero Mostel.
THE RATING: A-