This acclaimed comedy – with its serious, compelling theme – vividly brings to life one of America's most disturbing memories: the Communist “witch hunts” of the ‘50s. Woody Allen stars as Howard Prince – a small-time restaurant cashier, part-time bookie and full-time loser – who is induced by a writer-friend to “front” for the submission of his TV scripts when he is blacklisted as an alleged subversive. Howard is soon “fronting” for other writers. He becomes a celebrity and is lionized as television’s most brilliant and prolific young author. But when popular TV comic Hecky Brown (Zero Mostel) is blacklisted and his career is threatened, he agrees to keep Howard under surveillance. Howard is then summoned to appear before an investigative committee and his stand before them brings about an unexpected dramatic conclusion.
is both a comic delight and perhaps the most graceful act of show business revenge in cinema history. Written by, directed by, and starring various talents blacklisted during the McCarthy-era witch hunts of the 1950s entertainment industry, the film stars Woody Allen as Howard, a cashier and bookie approached by blacklisted television-writer Alfred (Michael Murphy) to act as a "front," i.e., the alleged author of Alfred's works. The scam proves hugely successful. Soon Howard is fronting for several other banned writers, taking a cut from every sale to the networks, and basking in praise (and romantic attentions) for his prolific talent. It all unravels when congressional investigators dig into Howard's past for Communist ties and squeeze him to name others with supposed links to the Red Menace. The Front
is charming, tragic, heroic, and briskly intelligent, featuring a heartbreaking performance by Zero Mostel and directed by Martin Ritt (Hud
). --Tom Keogh