Number of Times Seen – Three times (video in ’90, 16 Feb 2006 and 19 Nov 2018)
Brief Synopsis – A cashier is hired by Blacklisted TV writers to present their work as his own and along the way he struggles with trying to find a way to stop the injustices.
My Take on it – This is a film that I saw for the first time in high school when our English teacher showed it to us.
I actually cannot recall the reasoning behind showing us this film, but it has always stuck in my mind that we saw it in class.
The overall premise of this film is actually quite intriguing and poignant but they fail to find a way to keep things interesting throughout.
Woody Allen is fine in the lead especially since he doesn’t play the neurotic character that he usually is known for but the entire movie is highlighted by the spectacular performance by Zero Mostel who absolutely steals every scene he is in.
They present the story well and we get a clear idea of the way that the system treated suspected communists in the entertainment industry of the 1950’s.
The fact that most of the crew themselves were blacklisted during those days helps make the story feel a bit more personal yet something still is missing that would have elevated this film to greater heights.
Bottom Line – Intriguing and poignant idea that just doesn’t manage to remain interesting enough throughout. Allen is fine in the lead, but Mostel steals every scene he is in and is the highlight of this film. The story is presented well and gives a clear idea of how the system was working against everyone during the witch hunt of Communists among the talents of the entertainment industry during the 1950’s. The fact that most of the crew themselves were blacklisted makes it a quite personal story for them but still feels a bit lacking in the presentation.
MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – Woody Allen once said of this film: “From the beginning, I had enormous reservations about doing a film which I had not written and over which I would have no directorial control. The reason I did The Front (1976) was that the subject was worthwhile. Martin Ritt and Walter Bernstein lived through the blacklist and survived it with dignity, so I didn’t mind deferring to their judgment.” (From IMDB)
Rating – BAFTA Worthy (5/10)
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