Martin Ritt’s McCarthy-era The Front made headlines in 1976 by tackling the controversial subject matter of the anti-Communist blacklisting that plagued Hollywood in the 1950s. During this period, left-leaning artists of all stripes who were suspected of Communist sympathizing were barred from working, and one of The Front’s main points of interest is the fact that a good portion of its creative personnel — director Ritt, Oscar-nominated screenwriter Walter Bernstein (who appears at Film Forum for a post-screening interview), actor Zero Mostel — were themselves blacklisted. Seen today, the film is a little dry, with Ritt keeping cinematographer Michael Chapman (Taxi Driver) restrained outside of a single-take hotel-room scene. But Woody Allen as a cashier and low-rent bookie who gets hired to pass off the work of blacklisted TV writers as his own brings a measure of neurotic comedy to his role, creating a nice tension with the seriousness of Ritt’s overarching political agenda.
Sun., May 18, 3:10 p.m., 2014