Synopsis by Mark Deming
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.
ghost-writer, behind-the-scenes, blacklist, cashier, Cold-War, con/scam, deception, suicide, writing