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The Front
DVD disk
10.10.2004 By: Indiana Sev
The Front order
Director:
Martin Ritt

Actors:
Woody Allen
Zero Mostel
Herschel Bernardi

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
It’s the 1950’s and all Communist sympathizers working in show business are being blacklisted. A regular schlep (Allen), working as a cashier/bookie, agrees to let a few blacklisted writing friends use his name on scripts they want to sell to the networks to make a living. Our hero’s life soon improves drastically as he gains popularity and attention for “his" work from everyone in the industry. Eventually though, reality hits and he finds himself in a position to make a moral choice of his own.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Woody Allen is one of the most brilliant directors that Hollywood will ever have and although his gift for writing and direction has never been disputed, he rarely gets any praise for his acting performances. It’s mostly because the characters he plays are often very alike, namely a nervous, wise-cracking intellectual New York Jew. Well, in THE FRONT, he speaks another writer’s dialogue and is directed by somebody else - director Martin Ritt. And although his character still looks relatively the same (let’s face it, Woody will always look and sound like Woody), Allen nevertheless manages to provide a very multi-layered performance, showing both humor and sympathy in this serious/comedic look at how badly some lives were destroyed by Hollywood’s crackdown on the so-called “Reds” and the pressure tactics they used to have entertainers “name names.”

I recall GUILTY BY SUSPICION, another movie about Hollywood’s blacklisting of entertainers, giving me the same feeling of disgust and sadness at how people were manipulated, tricked and had their livelihoods threatened if they didn’t “cooperate.” THE FRONT, however, had a stronger impact upon me because mostly, it’s a comedy and has you laughing regularly while still managing to slowly expose the awful nature of what it really meant to be blacklisted at that time and place. The movie does get very serious at times, as it should, but ultimately it will leave you with a good feeling in your heart and a respect for all those persecuted during that time. The impact is made that much greater when during the end credits, they make note that the director, the writer and four of the actors in the film were all blacklisted themselves in the 1950’s. THE FRONT is truly a labor of love. It’s powerful, well acted and brilliantly written. Above all though, it’s a very important movie to watch. The fact that it’s so funny is just an added bonus and a credit to Woody Allen personally (you’re going to absolutely love his final line!!!).
THE EXTRAS
Two trailers and nothing more.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
I love movies that get my blood boiling and pump me full of admiration for people standing up for themselves. THE PEOPLE VS LARRY FLYNT is a great example of a movie that does just that and THE FRONT is another. If you’re a Woody Allen fan and appreciate a film that both entertains and enlightens, this movie is worth every penny despite its meager extras.
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