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The Front - 1976
Run Time: 95 minutes
A man with no real political convictions is hired to front a group of blacklisted writers during the McCarthy period of the 1950s. A dark send-up of Hollywood McCarthyism.
The Front 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).
Release Date: Septenber 17, 1976 (USA), January 21, 1977 (West Germany), April 22, 1977 (Finland), April 20, 1978 (Portugal)