The phrase more front than denotes impudence, effrontery—cf. early Australian uses of ‘more front than’.
Here, of course, front denotes self-assurance, but the word(s) that follow(s) than is/are generally chosen to pun on front in the sense of:
– the façade of a building,
– a long seafront.
With reference to front in the sense of a woman’s bust, the phrase more front than has also been used to designate a well-endowed woman.
These are some of the British- and Irish-English uses of the phrase more front than that I have found, in chronological order:
1-: From an article about the English actor Terence Stamp (born 1938), published in The People (London, England) of Sunday 21st August 1966:
The scene: Vidal Sassoon’s salon in Mayfair.
Stamp is carefully instructing Jean-Claud the exact length and style of the Victorian haircut he wants for his next film “Far From The Madding Crowd.”
“Listen, Vid,” says Stamp, “you’ve got to open a salon for men.
“It’s ruining my reputation creeping in here to get an ’air raid.
“You’d cut rings round all the other barbers in town.
“But you need more front than Woolworth’s to walk past all those birds out there under the dryers. Even I’m embarrassed.”
2-: From the review of a performance by Le Cirque Imaginaire, composed of the French actor Jean-Baptiste Thierrée (born 1937) and his wife, the British actress Victoria Chaplin (born 1951)—review by Steve Grant, published in The Observer (London, England) of Sunday 9th December 1979:
The real problem with the show is the studied contrast between Chaplin’s humourless, wide-eyed poise and Thierrée’s up-front jollity. It makes a point about the nature of the circus, but it also gives rise to a lengthy selection of Euro-Tommy Cooperisms 1 which are only amusing for their sheer nerve (in fact, on this showing, M. Thierrée has more front than Selfridge’s 2).
1 Tommy Cooper (1921-1984) was a British comedian and magician.
2 Selfridge’s, on Oxford Street, London, is the second largest department store in Britain.
3-: From the Sunday Mirror (London, England) of Sunday 10th January 1982—on Saturday 2nd January 1982, Erika Roe (born 1957) had run topless across the pitch of Twickenham Stadium during an England vs. Australia rugby-union match:
Woman’s Editor Eve Pollard gets it off her chest
What it’s like living with your ‘Erikas’
We all know what men think of big bosoms. The roar of the 68,000 rugby crowd at Twickenham a week ago said it all.
In a flash our heroine was free. Bristol lost a lot of its claim to fame as the mammorable phrase “a lovely pair of Erikas” was born.
Women, of course, don’t all feel the same as their menfolk.
In fact their varying views of Erika Roe and her size 38 double D cup bosom are often based on how well-endowed in the chest area they themselves are.
So I have to breathe in, pull my shoulders back, puff up my chest, and be counted. With a 36 C-cup size bosom, I am glad that once again the busty birds are having their day.
Having a big bosom isn’t necessarily the greatest stroke of luck, though.
I have been described as a girl with “more front than Brighton 3.” Yet I still get embarrassed by the way that a woman who carries all before her somehow appears much more available to the opposite sex than her flatter-chested sisters.
3 Brighton, a resort on the south coast of England, in East Sussex, is noted for its 5.4-mile expanse of shingle beach.
4-: From the review by James Green of the Mike Reid 4 Show, produced at the Orchard—review published in The Stage and Television Today (London, England) of Thursday 21st February 1985:
Gina Maher, an attractive Lulu-like blonde from “Crossroads”, belted out her upbeat songs with punch and more “front” than a supermarket.
4 Mike Reid (1940-2007) was an English comedian.
5-: From a portrait by James Green of the English comedian Max Miller (Thomas Henry Sargent – 1894-1963), who was born and bred in Brighton—portrait published in The Stage and Television Today (London, England) of Thursday 2nd March 1989:
He was a master of timing with wicked eyes, a suit of plus fours made out of chintz curtain, a white trilby, co-respondents’ shoes, and more front than his beloved Brighton.
6-: From Some nice little earners could leave England’s hero crying all the way to the bank: Gazza Mataz!, by Colin Wills, published in the Sunday Mirror (London, England) of Sunday 15th July 1990:
To sell a superstar, you need more front than Brighton, more push than a JCB 5, more smarm than Bob Monkhouse 6.
5 From the initials of J. C. Bamford, the makers, the British-English trademark JCB designates a type of mechanical excavator with a shovel at the front and a digging arm at the rear.
6 The English entertainer and comedian Robert Monkhouse (1928-2003), who hosted The Bob Monkhouse Show, a chat show broadcast on BBC Television from 1983 to 1986, was criticised for sycophancy towards his guests.
7-: From the review by Molly Blake of The Underworld, a BBC Television programme about the rise of crime in post-war Britain—review published in the Evening Mail (West Bromwich, West Midlands, England) of Thursday 17th February 1994:
They were a gnarled old bunch, these crooks, their words interspersed with old film-footage and crime reports from ancient rolls of the Pathe News.
They had more front than Blackpool 7, and were as genial as vicars.
7 Blackpool is a seaside resort in Lancashire, north-western England; the seafront consists of a 7-mile sandy beach.
8-: From the television programmes, published in the Evening Express (Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Scotland) of Saturday 19th November 1994:
She’s bold, she’s brassy and she’s got more front than Barbara Windsor 8. Lily Savage is the true star of this remarkable show, yet the beehived blonde in the leather mini skirt is really a bloke. The ex-social services worker, whose real name is Paul O’Grady, fell into his drag queen act purely by mistake but now firmly established on the circuit.
8 Barbara Windsor (Barbara Ann Deeks – born 1937) is an English actress, renowned for her generous bust.
9-: From Heat’s on as holiday fever hits Britain, published in the Daily Mirror (London, England) of Saturday 15th April 1995:
Showing more front than the Golden Mile 9, one woman got into the Easter heatwave by baring all.
The topless stroller was just one of 500,000 visitors who basked in the Bank Holiday sun in Blackpool.
9 The Golden Mile is the name given to the stretch of Promenade between the North and South piers in Blackpool.
10-: From That was the week that was, Nick Walker’s column, published in the Football Echo (Liverpool, Merseyside, England) of Saturday 2nd September 1995:
Leeds win 40-6.
After showing more front than Southend 10 during an interesting Turkish spell with a Mr Graeme Souness, that’s exactly where Scouser Mike Marsh ends up after a strange £450,000 move from Galatasaray.
10 Southend-on-Sea is a coastal town in Essex, south-eastern England; Southend Pier is the longest leisure pier in the world; the seafront consists of seven miles of sandy beaches.
11-: From Going for bust: Stars think big boobs are simply the breast, by Ester McCarthy, published in the Sunday World (Dublin, County Dublin, Ireland) of Sunday 5th November 1995:
Pamela Anderson 11 loves hers, Anna Nicole Smith 12 denies she has any and Paula Yates 13 scribbled “make mine perfect” across the front of hers.
But these sexy stars have all literally moved on to bigger and better things with the help of the surgeon’s knife and a little bit of silicone.
And they have reinvented their lives – and their image – by boosting their boobs.
Never mind that these women run the risk of being blinded every time they go jogging, the addition of a Grand Canyon cleavage which has given them more front than Cleary’s 14 has not only hoisted their figures – it’s also made their bank balance top heavy.
11 Pamela Anderson (born 1967) is a Canadian-U.S. model and actress.
12 Anna Nicole Smith (Vickie Lynn Hogan – 1967-2007) was a U.S. model and actress.
13 Paula Yates (1959-2000) was an English television presenter and author.
14 This seems to refer to Clery’s, a department store on O’Connell Street, Dublin.
12-: From Soaps Update, about Emmerdale 15, published in the Enniscorthy Guardian (Enniscorthy, County Wexford, Ireland) of Wednesday 24th April 1996:
Zak sees red
Zak’s happiness soon turns to anger on Thursday as the Dingles discover Marilyn has done a runner, while Kim Tate proves once again that she has more front than Brighton Beach as she tries to tempt Chris to help her out.
15 Emmerdale is a British soap opera set in Emmerdale, a fictional village in the Yorkshire Dales.
13-: Published in the Ealing Leader (London, England) of Friday 26th April 1996, the following advertisement reverses the pun on the noun front, since, here, this noun does denote the façade of a building:
Norwood Green. More front than Pamela Anderson, a rare chance to acquire a super 3 bed dble fronted detached bungalow with conservatory, modern kitchen and bathroom.