Walter Bernstein, Oscar-Nominated Screenwriter on 'The Front,' Dies at 101 - Hollywood Reporter
Jan 23, 2021 1 min, 55 secs

Walter Bernstein, the resilient screenwriter who drew upon his ignominious experience on the blacklist in 1950s Hollywood to pen the Oscar-nominated script for The Front, has died.

Born in Brooklyn, Bernstein formally joined the Communist Party while attending Dartmouth College — "I never thought there would be repercussions," he told The Hollywood Reporter's Scott Feinberg in 2012 — then served in the U.S.

And I made some very good profound relationships with other blacklisted people," he told Christian Niedan in a 2013 interview for the website Camera in the Sun.

The Front (1976), directed by Martin Ritt, starred Woody Allen as Howard Prince, a small-fry restaurant cashier/bookie who is hired by three blacklisted TV writers (Michael Murphy, Lloyd Gough and David Margulies) to become the face of their work.

Like Bernstein, many of the cast and crew involved in The Front had been real-life blacklist victims, including Ritt and actors Herschel Bernardi and Zero Mostel.

"It was our movie, it was our revenge in a way," Bernstein said.

After nearly a decade on the blacklist, Bernstein had finally gotten his name on a screenplay for the 1959 Loren film That Kind of Woman, directed by Lumet.

"He recommended me to [producer and Loren's husband] Carlo Ponti," Bernstein told Feinberg.

Truly saddened to hear that Walter Bernstein — legendary screenwriter, and one of the great humans — died last night.

"One day a producer, Charles Russell, said to me, 'There's a problem here, you have to put another name on the script.

That meant he was automatically blacklisted, and the only way he could continue his career as Walter Bernstein was to testify and finger other Hollywood lefties.

But Lumet, then a director on Danger, and Russell allowed him to keep writing secretly (Ritt was a producer on that show and had been blacklisted), as did Russell again on You Are There, a program hosted by Walter Cronkite that dramatized news events.

The writers "were blacklisted, there was nothing more they could do to us," Bernstein said, "but Lumet and Russell would have been blacklisted too if it had been known that they were hiring blacklisted people.

Bernstein then wrote and directed Little Miss Marker (1980), a 1930s-set period piece that starred Walter Matthau and Julie Andrews

© 2021 The Hollywood Reporter, LLC

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