The Front (1976)

4.

★★★

And the list goes on

Directed by: Martin Ritt
Written by: Walter Bernstein
Starring: Woody Allen, Zero Mostel and Herschel Bernardi

America's most unlikely hero

Howard Prince (Allen) is a simple cashier who can’t keep his finances in order. With bad luck in stocks and lots of debts to repay, Howard finds a way to earn money through blacklisted friends who ask Howard if they can use his names on the scripts they can’t sell. But while new found fame and a love interest are the sparks of being a fraud scriptwriter, Howard begins to see the unfairness and injustice behind what his friends have to go through.

While The Front is marked by Woody Allen’s natural charm and likability, such qualities are made second to the more significant themes and ideas linked to the McCarthyism that stamped out the passionate and artistic works of many writers in the period. In order to give the more serious tones of the film depth and attention, The Front however slows its pace and loses its excitement. As a result, many of these scenes often feel unnecessary, wordy and elongated, which turn interesting and powerful ideas into bland dialogue.

Nevertheless, The Front looks at blacklisting in the entertainment industry with insightful perspectives whilst managing to find the humor. Had the film maintained its cheeky attitude and compelling qualities from its opening through to the end, The Front would have been able to take greater advantage of Woody Allen and stood out as a more original representation of McCarthyism in cinema.

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