(1976)4Perry SeibertThe Front is not about politics. It is about survival. Director Martin Ritt, star Zero Mostel, screenwriter Walter Bernstein, and many other talents involved with The Front were victims of the Hollywood blacklist. With this film, they take their collective pain and fashion a comedy born out of desperation, history, and personal pride. They, along with lead actor Woody Allen, manage to find honest laughs in a most painful period from these men's lives. When filmmakers explain a particular injustice, the audience is enlightened; when they display that injustice happening to someone the audience cares about, viewers respond with sympathy; having that character see the mordant humor in the injustice, comment on it, and still refuse to buckle to it (even though the temptation to do so is huge) makes a hero. That is what these filmmakers achieve. Very few films are this adept at finding humor in characters whose lives are so seriously compromised. Coming from people who survived such a painful time -- people tempted by that compromise -- The Front is more than a history lesson, a comedy, or a successful group therapy session. Its existence is a validation of both art and life.