Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

The Front (1976)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

The Front (1976)

In director Martin Ritt's dark comedy, with the backdrop of the Hollywood "Blacklisting Era" in the 1950s:

  • the silent opening credits with stark white-on-black titles
  • the film's tagline: "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. Our funniest comedians weren't allowed to make us laugh. What would it be like if there were such a list? It would be like America in 1953"
  • the opening newsreel montage depicting the 1950's to the tune of Frank Sinatra's "Young at Heart", intercut with HUAC and McCarthy-era footage, including Senator Joe McCarthy's wedding, bombing raids on Korea, and the use of a backyard air-raid shelter
  • the scene of blacklisted TV writer Alfred Miller (Michael Murphy), over a game of chess, explaining to his longtime friend, small-time bookie and NY deli clerk/cashier Howard Prince (Woody Allen in his first serious film role), that he had been blacklisted: "Howard, I can't work anymore...Blacklist...Howard, they won't buy my scripts. I'm on a blacklist. Do you know what that means? It's a list of names. The studios have 'em, the networks, the ad agencies. You're on the list, you're marked, you don't work...I'm a Communist's not so popular anymore"
  • the request of Alfred that he use Howard's name on his scripts as a "front": "I need another name...Pseudonyms don't work. They know we're all changing our names. I need a real person now...someone they can believe and I can trust" - in exchange for a 10% cut; now, Howard needed to pose as the scriptwriter - "they're gonna want to meet the you're gonna have to go in there and really be the writer"
  • the scene at the TV studio when Howard first met producer Phil Sussman (Herschel Bernardi), and his idealistic production assistant Florence Barrett (Andrea Marcovicci), who instantly was impressed by his writing: "I really liked your script alot...Most of the stuff I read, I mean, yours had substance. It was about people"
  • the scene of an emergency in the middle of a dress rehearsal, when Sussman demanded that Howard immediately rewrite one of his scenes ("make it a firing squad" rather than a gas chamber) in his script, and placed him in a bare office with a typewriter; Howard protested to no avail: "I can't write except in my room"
  • the despairing character of unemployed and blacklisted TV comedy actor Hecky Brown (Zero Mostel) who eventually committed suicide by jumping from a hotel room window
  • the ending in which Howard Prince testified before the HUAC committee: "I don't recognize the right of this committee to ask me these kind of questions. And furthermore, you can all go f--k yourselves"
  • the final sequence set at the train station, accompanied again by Frank Sinatra's rendition of "Young at Heart" playing on the soundtrack, when Howard kissed girlfriend Florence - revealing he was handcuffed to an officer and surrounded by crowds waving signs of support, as he boarded a train bound for federal prison
  • the closing scene and credits (shown to the sounds of Frank Sinatra's "Young at Heart") in which most of the cast and crew (including the director) were accompanied by their real-life dates of blacklisting

Blacklisted TV writer Alfred Miller (Michael Murphy) with Howard

Howard with Florence at TV Studio

Howard In a Bare Office with Typewriter

Blacklisted Hecky Brown's Suicide From Hotel Window

Howard Prince: "You can all go f--k yourselves!"

Howard Kissing Florence

Ending Credits


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