The Front

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"America's most unlikely hero."
  • PG
  • 1976
  • 1 hr 35 min
  • 7.3  (9,597)

The Front is a 1976 drama film directed by Martin Ritt and starring Woody Allen, Zero Mostel, and Herschel Bernardi. Set in the 1950s during the height of the Cold War, the movie follows the story of a struggling restaurant cashier named Howard Prince, who is recruited to act as a front for blacklisted writers in the entertainment industry.

The movie opens with Howard, played by Allen, living a mundane life in New York City as a cashier at a restaurant. One day, his friend Alfred Miller (Mostel), who is a TV scriptwriter, is identified as a communist by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). Afraid of being blacklisted and unable to find work, Alfred asks Howard to put his name on the scripts he writes, so he can continue to work in the industry under the radar. Howard agrees to help his friend and becomes the front for him and many other blacklisted writers.

At first, Howard is ignorant about the political background of his actions, but as he meets more and more writers working under similar circumstances, he learns about the seriousness of the situation. The government is cracking down on alleged communist sympathizers in the entertainment industry, and the fear of being blacklisted looms over the artists like a death sentence. Howard starts to feel the pressure, but he finds solace in the camaraderie and support he feels from his colleagues.

As the story develops, Howard becomes more involved in the scheme, going as far as to masquerade as a writer and produce his own scripts. His new-found success brings him fame and fortune, but it also puts him in serious danger, in the event that the HUAC or any other government officials catch them.

As Howard becomes more immersed in the world of blacklisted writers, he learns about their struggles and hardships. Bernie W. Lutz (Bernardi), a television director and another blacklisted writer, becomes one of Howard's mentors in the world of television writing. Bernie helps Howard refine his craft and teaches him about the inner workings of the industry.

The film focuses on the pain and suffering of those who were forced to abandon their careers and their livelihoods because of their political beliefs. Zero Mostel's character is one of the more tragic cases in the movie, as Alfred is forced to be a ghost writer, unable to put his own name to his work. But the film also emphasizes the positive aspects of Howard's work, showing how the writers were able to persevere despite the challenges they faced.

With a compelling storyline, strong performances from the actors, and a poignant commentary on the political situation of the time, The Front is a film that is both engaging and thought-provoking. It provides an insight into a dark chapter in American history and a reminder of the importance of free speech and artistic expression. The movie is a fascinating and well-executed exploration of one of the darkest periods in American politics, featuring a riveting performance by Woody Allen and a moving script by Walter Bernstein. If you're interested in compelling dramas that provide a glimpse into history, The Front is definitely worth checking out.

The Front is a 1976 comedy with a runtime of 1 hour and 35 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.3.

The Front
Where to Watch The Front
The Front is available to watch, stream, download and buy on demand at Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play and Vudu. Some platforms allow you to rent The Front for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 35 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.3  (9,597)