Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
USA, 1976. Columbia Pictures Corporation, Devon/Persky-Bright, Jack Rollins & Charles H. Joffe Productions, Martin Ritt Productions, Persky-Bright Productions, Rollins-Joffe Productions. Screenplay by Walter Bernstein. Cinematography by Michael Chapman. Produced by Martin Ritt. Music by Dave Grusin. Production Design by Charles Bailey. Costume Design by Ruth Morley. Film Editing by Sidney Levin. Academy Awards 1976. National Board of Review Awards 1976.
This was one of the first major Hollywood films to deal with the shameful blacklist of the 50s. After a group of writers have been fired from various studios for having been found to be politically controversial, they approach politically unmotivated cashier Woody Allen and ask him to take credit for their scripts and get them sold for production. Since he needs the money, Allen readily agrees to do this for them, but the experience raises his awareness of what is really going on with the communist witch hunt and pushes him to take a stand for something. Politically satisfying, it’s also a great comedy with a fantastic lead performance by Allen. The screenplay is top-notch, and the rest of the cast, populated by actual victims of the blacklist (including Zero Mostel, terrific as a washed-up actor) lends excellent support.