In the early 1950s Howard Prince, who works in a restaurant, helps out a black-listed writer friend by selling a TV station a script under his own name. The money is useful in paying off gambling debts, so he takes on three more such clients.
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Poorly paced and indifferently directed, it shows the signs of having a literate script but illiterate film grammar, not michael chapmans fault though. Woody Allen is game but the film itself is too light and tonally off to truly dramatize its conflict.
This really is a wonderfully written script. I feel that the third act could have been slightly better crafted but the journey offered up to that point is so rich in content, laughs and brutal honesty that it's easy to forget a minor annoyance. Also, this has to be one Woody's better roles.
Underappreciated film in Ritt's canon, The Front deserves a revisit. Mostel delivers a career defining performance, & the screenplay is great in its ability to still find humor in a very dark time in American history. Woody gives a good performance, more understated from his other work from the period & foreshadows some of his 80s films. Maybe not at "classic status" like Hud, or Spy Who..., this is top Ritt. 4 stars
Important reminder of a dark era in the US history, directed and written and partly acted by blacklisted artists. Shame that “The Front” is such a mediocre film. Even Woody Allen is miles away from what he could be in films written by himself. Jokes don’t work, scenes feel forced. But the story is important, because it is important to remember all that shit people had to go through because of McCarthyist paranoia.
McCarthyism. What an ugly chapter in the american history; a national stain, shame & paranoia. Martin Ritt & Woody Allen do their best in using irony, persiflage and humor to deal with the matter. But Mr. Allen is simply carrying over his familiar & 'usual' Woody Allen 'funny' character into a too serious context and it somehow creates the feeling of disturbing ignorance.
Only Martin Ritt treated white Americans for what they are: a people group with common traits, just like any other. His character's contain a component of caricature built on this assumption which lend a comedic tone no matter how serious the content. This example features some of the finest acting by one of his most famous pupils; Woody Allen is at his most truthful here.