Film / The Front

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/image_461.jpeg

The Front is a 1976 comedy-drama film directed by Martin Ritt and starring Woody Allen as a bookie who acts as a front for television writers blacklisted during the Red Scare of the 1950s.

The Front provides examples of:

  • Becoming the Mask: Though he doesn't become a genuine writer, Howard comes to sympathize with the blacklisted artists he's met, and refuses to give the HUAC members any names.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Hecky Brown has taken his own life, and Howard has been carted off to jail. But not without standing up to the HUAC board.
  • Borscht Belt: Hecky has his roots there, and goes back to playing it after his blacklisting.
  • Driven to Suicide: Hecky Brown, based on the real-life suicide of Philip Loeb.
    • The fact that Zero Mostel was friends with Loeb makes this even more a Tear Jerker.
  • The Fifties
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Howard's bookie career bites him when the HUAC members threaten to charge him with illegal gambling unless he can give names for communist sympathizers.
  • I'm a Man, I Can't Help It: Hecky claims to have only been attending Party meetings to get laid. "It was the girl with the big ass!"
  • Insane Troll Logic: The HUAC counselor seems to assume everyone is a subversive, that when told someone is loyal, his response is along the lines of "For now, but he probably isn't." His reaction to someone complaining he's accused because he shares the same name as someone who is a suspect is "well, everything will be okay because if you're innocent, you won't be accused and blacklisted", even though he's already accused and blacklisted.
  • Large Ham: Hecky Brown, played by Real Life Large Ham Zero Mostel.
  • Mathematician's Answer: Invoked. When put before the HUAC committee, Howard is able to dodge their questions by answering them in a way that prevents him from confirming anything. Unfortunately, the committee had another ace up their sleeve.
  • "Mister Sandman" Sequence: The film opens with a montage of old newsreel clips depicting life in the early 1950s, as Frank Sinatra's "Young at Heart" plays on the soundtrack.
  • Nice Guy: Howard. In the end, Hecky says this of him even though he's plainly jealous of Howard's meteoric rise.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Alfred Miller, not to be confused with actual blacklisted playwright Arthur Miller.
  • Precision F-Strike: The film's final line, delivered by Howard to the HUAC members.
  • Red Scare: The Second Red Scare, as it's known.
  • Sad Clown: Hecky again.
  • Stage Names: Hecky Brown's real name is Herschel Bronstein.
  • Toxic Friend Influence: Subverted and defied. Howard continues to insist on a friendship with Hecky even though he's been blacklisted and associating with him during the Red Scare could get him accused.
  • What You Are in the Dark: Under pressure to "name names", Howard is told he can get off easily by naming Hecky, who is dead. No one would care, and no one thinks Howard is a sympathizer. Rather than take the easy way out, Howard tells the committee off to honor his friends, leading to his imprisonment.
  • Witch Hunt: The HUAC.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Film/TheFront