By Raymond Benson
Perhaps the first film we saw that convinced us that Woody Allen could actually act—i.e., not be his nebbish, nervous comic persona from his early directorial efforts—was Martin Ritt’s 1976 comedy/drama, The Front, which appeared a year before Allen’s Annie Hall.
The Front was perhaps the first Hollywood film to tackle the subject of “the blacklist” that occurred in the movie industry in the late 1940s and throughout most of the 50s. This abominable practice was due to the investigation of “Communist infiltration” in Tinsel Town by Huac—the House Un-American Activities Committee. It was truly a dark time in U.S. history, one in which friends were pressured to “name names” or face the prospect of unemployment or worse, such as jail time. Note that the Hollywood studio heads were responsible for the actual blacklisting. The