At the age of twenty-nine, Elgar Enders "runs away" from home. This running away consists of buying a building in a black ghetto in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn. Initially his ... See full summary »
At the age of twenty-nine, Elgar Enders "runs away" from home. This running away consists of buying a building in a black ghetto in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn. Initially his intention is to evict the black tenants and convert it into a posh flat. But Elgar is not one to be bound by yesterday's urges, and soon he has other thoughts on his mind. He's grown fond of the black tenants and particularly of Fanny, the wife of a black radical; he's maybe fallen in love with Lanie, a mulatto girl; he's lost interest in redecorating his home. Joyce, his mother has not relinquished this interest and in one of the film's most hilarious sequences gives her Master Charge card to Marge, a black tenant and appoints her decorator. Written by
Elgar Winthrop Julius Enders:
[being held at gunpoint by Marge]
I am the new landlord. And you are disregarding your lease by practicing whatever you're practicing here with these, with these readings. I'll have you thrown out! So if you want to shoot, just go ahead and shoot. That'll be running an illegal business, nonpayment of rent... and manslaughter.
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Recently watched Hal Ashby's directorial debut, "The Landlord" at Manhattan's Film Forum. A complete revelation. How has it happened that this film is not as known as others from the same period? It is easily among the top films of the Hollywood renaissance of the '70s. Its take on racism is as fresh and complex as it was in 1970. In fact, one other reviewer is dead wrong about the film having no intrinsic style. It is a film loaded with style. (And, if I may add, if this reviewer thinks that all films aren't made in the editing room than you're sadly mistaken.) The film is as complicated, multi-layered, messy and ultimately indefinable as the problem of racism itself. There is no way to honestly treat this subject by making a neat little package film. We've been peeling this onion for hundreds of years and we'll be peeling it for hundreds more. Racism is as deeply ingrained in our society as our love of money and power. This film is only a "chore to sit through" if you have an aversion to fantastic writing, unbelievably great characters, amazing cinematography, brilliant editing and, yes, a complexity born of its subject. A film for the ages. Now if only the ages will catch up.
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