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USA 1976
Directed by
Martin Ritt
94 minutes
Rated G

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

The Front

This well-written (by Walter Bernstein) comedy about black-listed writers in the infamous McCarthy era takes a relatively light-hearted look at the anti-Communist witch hunts that swept through Hollywood in the 1950s.

Woody Allen plays Howard Prince, a cashier at a small bar who works as a bookie on the side with little success.  One day he accepts an offer from old friend (Michael Murphy), a blacklisted television writer, to act as a front for his scripts. Howard accepts and before long he is bearding for multiple writers and is the toast of the television industry.  However when hack television host, Hecky Brown (Zero Mostel), finds his Leftist past catching up with him and is told that in order to save his job he has to get the goods on some suspect people, Howard finds himself under scrutiny.

Allen and Mostel, the latter one of many Hollywood figures along with director Ritt and fellow actor Herschel Bernardi who were blacklisted by HUAC, make for an excellent comic pairing and the result is an entertaining if modest account of a shameful chapter in American cultural history.




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