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Plot: 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… Runtime: 112 min Release Date: 20 May 1970
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. <more>
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.
Beau Bridges as The Landlord - A Must See Experience (by JLRMovieReviews)
Beau Bridges buys a New York apartment building and moves in to manage it. That is basically the premise. But there is much more to it than that. I can usually tell from fade-in whether a movie is one that I can get into and if I buy into the characters' world, in other words if it feels authentic or not. And, this film really delivers. To begin with, Beau really must have "it," as many women come on to him, including the black tenants. His eccentric mother, played wonderfully by Lee Grant is a real hoot, but the heart of the film belongs to the people who live, dream, struggle <more>
and love in this apartment building. One of which is a married black woman who falls for him and when her husband finds out all hell breaks loose. I feel like my meager words can't really capture what this film does, the life of the early 1970s in a borough of New York. With direction by Hal Ashby, the film has an affection for its complicated characters and their drive to get through today and to have a better tomorrow. And, Pearl Bailey adds her sassy self to the mix. This is really one of the best 1970s films I've ever seen. Watch "The Landlord" and see Beau Bridges at his best as he is in the raw reality of 1970s New York.
A Lost Satire That's Socially Honest and Ironically Prophetic (by madbandit20002000)
Time's a funny thing. It contains a lot of things, but doesn't always keep track of everything. Moments fall in the cracks. Some moments are forgettable; others shouldn't be. One of the moments is a movie called "The Landlord," an adept, racially-charged and thoughtful satire that makes "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" looks like "Enchanted April".Wanting to leave his family's affluent Long Island abode, breezy, twenty-nine-year-old, blue blood Elgar Enders Beau Bridges of "The Fabulous Baker Boys" and "Jerry Maguire" buys <more>
a tenement building in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn and hopes to convert into a rich hippie pad. However, the residents, all poor and African-American, won't unsurprisingly abide being relocated, using comical scare tactics or hermetic indifference. Elgar counters by becoming the film's title, taking on the edifice's welfare while earning admiration Pearl Bailey's delightful as a fortune teller ; seduction Diana Sands's a frustrated housewife/ hairdresser; Marki Bey's a strong yet out of place mulatto artist and go-go dancer at a nearby nightclub and scorn a pre-Oscar winning Louis Gossett Jr. as Sands's militant yet derelict husband; Mel Stewart of "All In The Family" is an unlicensed teacher, who guides the neighborhood children in the ghetto while infuriating his parents Walter Brooke and Lee Grant, who earned an Oscar nomination for this gig to high hell and a half. This is what happens when you put too much cream in your coffee.Armed with a smart, sharp, funny and poignant script by actor-scribe Bill Gunn the avant-garde horror film, "Ganja & Hess" that was adapted from a now-scarce novel by Kristin Hunter, Hal Ashby "Shampoo", "Being There", "Harold & Maude", "The Last Detail" made an impressive debut as a maverick director, after editing films for Norman Jewison, who supervised the film's production. With his skills and d.p. Gordon Willis the Godfather saga, mentored Mike Chapman of "Taxi Driver" , Ashby gives "The Landlord" a funky, gritty, kaleidoscope narrative, complimenting the tale's consciousness. Soliloquies, flashbacks, visual thought balloons are here and cool. It's fascinating and ironic that a white director despite being middle-age at the time, Ashby was quite the hippie and a black screenwriter Gunn was a writer of all trades worked in sync to examine the racial, social and economical gaps between their ethic camps. There's a flashback scene of Elgar's all-white grade school class; "Children, how do we live?" the teacher asks. It cuts to a black man having the inability to hail a cab. How do we live? How indeed.None of the cast makes a false step, no matter how big or small their roles. Bridges, obviously scarred by his father being blacklisted in the 1950s, is pitch-perfect as the title character, a naive, overgrown Little Lord Fauntleroy, thinking racial strife can be achieved by common courtesy without learning why there is in the first place. Ms. Sands, "A Raisin In The Sun" who sadly passed away three years after the film's release, finds Elgar fascinating and sexy! as sassy but delicate Franny, who wallows in the memories of her beauty pageant days. Not because he's rich and white but "socially pure", unlike Gossett "An Officer and A Gentleman", "Roots" , as Copee, a rightfully angry black man who wants to fight back against the system that broke him but neglects Franny and their son. No wonder the kid smokes and Franny...well, cream and coffee Singer Pearl Bailey's a wise hoot as fortune teller Marge, who accepts Elgar's attempts to redeem the building's derelict conditions. Lee Grant who worked again with Ashby on "Shampoo" is quite the hypocrite as Joyce Elders. She accepts black people but not too close. When she and Bailey get high and drunk, you'll know why. There's also Marki Bey the black zombie grindhouse yarn "Sugar Hill" as Elgar's second girl, Lainie, the mixed daughter of divorced parents, who feels the "heat" when she's with Elgar. Unlike Gossett's Copee, Mr. Stewart's more subtle in his animosity toward his landlord. He lays the final blow that makes the rich kid grow up.Straight-forward comical elements are handled by Mr. Brooke as Elgar's father; future sitcom director Will McKenzie as Elgar's brother; Robert Klein "The Pursuit of Happiness" as Elgar's brother-in-law and Susan Anspach as Elgar's pot-head sister. Through it all, there are neither good nor bad people in the film, just victims of social prejudice and expectations.okay, Joe Madden as Elgar's grandfather, silent, senile and wheelchair-bound, is probably one, a relic of old, good white boy prestige gone to pot. Look out for future Garry Marshall figure Hector Elizondo.Lively and funky is the music by Al Kooper, the co-founder of the white R&B group, Blood, Sweat & Tears, bookended by two hard, soulful tracks by the Staple Singers.Ignored by the public upon its release, "The Landlord" has become a holy grail to filmmakers and movie fans. It's also a prophecy; once derelict Park Slope is now a haven for the high-pocketed crowd. Sadly, the social problems still exist, making the film, like the sitcoms of Norman Lear, timeless. It deserves a proper DVD release. Maybe a limited double-bill showing with the recent "Django Unchained"; they both deal with "how we live."
This overall excellent movie from the early 70's blackploitation period showcased the stereotypes that permeated the landscape of those times. It came out during the same time period as All In The Family. The Landlord dealt with some of the same issues as Archie Bunkers family did. Thank God there was a time that wasn't PC and things could be shown as they were and not as someone wished they would be.As America struggled with the issues of race and prejudice, a movie such as this came along and tried to show that color shouldn't be a barrier to true love and friendship. Nowadays, <more>
it's nothing for blacks and whites to mix. The barriers have been somewhat broken, although some may say it was forced on white america with all the affirmative action laws and equal rights.I always thought Beau Bridges was one of the least attractive actors whatwith his big bushy eyebrows, but after I saw The Landlord, he was actually somewhat handsome and cute in his 20's! And the fact that the lead actor falls in love with a light-skinned blackwoman wasn't lost on me either. Hollywood will still only use lighter black women Halley Berry, Vanessa Williams types for lead roles in movies. Beau Bridges even mentions it to his mother that she might like his new black girlfriend because she was "very light". I guess they were ahead of the times back then!But we all know it's so as not to offend WHITE AMERICA.And there was also the rascism that is directed from blacks towards whites that still exist today. It's like some blacks think ALL whites are bad people. That we all are descendants from the white slave-owners! Many of us came over as immigrants from European countries and had nothing to do with slavery!All in all, The Landlord was a good movie. I almost thought I was watching the Black Entertainment channel! But it was AMC! And it was good. And there was a lot of symbolism in the movie, like the white family wearing alot of white clothing and living in a white house! And it also shows that if you get to know someone and act like a human being with a heart, color won't matter at all. People are people on the inside and that is what we need to look at, not what is on the outside! We can appreciate our diversities and enjoy them..not ridicule them. In the movie we see that ignorance leads to the problems of racism. Not color! Check this movie out.
It was a great movie. I'm only 22 yrs old and just saw it for the first time only recently. It is a great movie that is able to drive several points home--consisting of racial prejudice, the view of African-American lifestyle at that point in time, and even the social snobbery that can occur in the upper-class. What is so wonderful about it however is the fact that it showcases these issues with such a wonderful quick sense of humor that one minute you might be in silence from a profound piece of dialogue or suspended moment and then the next scene will quickly have you laughing. Beau was <more>
great and so was EVERYONE else, especially Lee Grant.
Hal Ashby famous for the likes of "Harold and Maude", "The Last Detail", "Shampoo", "Bound for Glory", "Coming Home" and "Being There" made his directorial debut with the offbeat Beau Bridges vehicle "The Landlord". Bridges plays Elgar Enders, the son of a wealthy - but pretty despondent - landlady Lee Grant . Grouchy and pretty bigoted, this woman cares only about her African-American tenants paying their rent. So when Elgar takes over the apartment building, he not only decides to change things for the better, but he <more>
also begins to develop a relationship with one of the women in the building.Like many movies that came out around 1970, this one features numerous jump cuts between totally different scenes. I don't know the specific purpose of this, but I get the feeling that they may have done it to create a sense of the confusion pervading the world due to the unprecedented changes occurring around that time. But I will say that it helps to stress Elgar's disgust with his family's ignorance and scorn of the world outside theirs. You really have to root for what he does as landlord of this building, just as a complete rejection of everything that he's been raised to believe and do.All in all, I wholeheartedly recommend this movie. Maybe it goes a little overboard in practically beatifying Elgar, but he really deserves it. Lee Grant's character will probably make your skin crawl. Louis Gossett Jr. - whom I previously only thought of as Fiddler on "Roots" - plays one nasty dude though we understand why he's like he is . Ditto Prof. Dubois Melvin Stewart .So see it. You'll probably like it. Also starring Robert Klein and Hector Elizondo in early roles.
witty and with enough emotional depth and intelligence to carry the subject matter; good debut for Ashby (by Quinoa1984)
As one of the scruffy underdog filmmakers of the 1970s- who's career unfortunately faltered in the 80s before his untimely death at 59- Hal Ashby was good at taking a set of characters and a particular idea or theme and getting under the surface just enough to make a mark, while also keeping it an oddly entertaining and accessible as a picture for the art houses. Also, it shows Ashby coming out of his cocoon of editing jobs he even won an Oscar, for Jewison's In the Heat of the Night by giving the Landlord a very particular rhythm. Many times he'll just let a scene play out, <more>
giving the actors the freedom to work with the script their way, and then other times he'll implement montage- or just a subliminal cut-away or not so subliminal, as Lee Grant envisions an African tribe going to the Park Slope building, and a whole pack of black babies upon hearing about a little 'accident' her step-son caused late in the film .I was really struck by how he uses experimentation for equal uses of humor, abstraction, and to just feel out the mood of the character s in the scene. Like when Brides runs to meet with Lanie at her school, and it's inter-cut with images from Fanny at her apartment, and Lanie, and a couple of other things. It can be called 'European'- and Ashby was an admitted fan of Godard's- but it feels unique to the sensibility of the production and the 'radical' feeling of the period. Meanwhile, Ashby has the best photography back up a first-time director could ask for: Gordon Willis and Michael Chapman, who give the film a look sometimes of lightness, especially when Elgar is at the family home and the walls are all a bland white, or seem to be; then other times they light it darker, like in a more intimate setting like Elgar and Lanie out by the beach at night, or just when at the Park Slope apartment. A scene especially with Elgar and Fanny is effective, not simply because she actually comments on how the red light makes her look a certain way- it's the timing of the actors, the awkward but strong sexual tension, and the red light, and the soft soul music coming up, that makes it one of the best scenes Ashby's ever filmed, thanks to the right team.If the style verges on being a little "dated" here and there, like in the opening minutes as Elgar talks to the camera and says what he intends to do with the tenement, or those extreme close-ups of Elgar kissing with Lanie which are quite striking on their own , its attitude towards the pure human problems of race haven't diminished that much. I liked seeing Bridges, who is spot-on as the total naive future yuppie who's heart is in the right place but confused how to really go about it as the new landlord, interact with the other apartment dwellers, their 'welcoming' by chasing him away with a flowered pot in his hands, or at the party when after getting him good and drunk tell him what it's really all about in first-person takes. And most of all it's funny and challenging to see, especially during a tense period around 1969 when it was filmed, how essential decency on either side of the race coin could get complicated by love and lust, of the rich family understandably not understanding how Elgar could go through this- not to mention the eventual 'mixed' dating and the pregnancy- and at the same time the tenees never totally knowing why, aside from foolish design ambitions, wanted to run the place to start with.The best laughs end up coming from the awkward moments, and the obvious ones, as the subtle moments are meant to be more quiet and the 'big' laughs to come from the interaction of not just in terms of race but class; watch as everyone in the building uses the drapes from Joyce Lee Grant in a well deserved Oscar nom performance as clothes and head-dressing, or when Joyce has some pot liquor with Marge, who knows her better than her own family probably does. And who can resist the NAACP joke? Or a throwaway joke about dressing up as a historical figure for a costume ball? Ashby and his writers both screenwriter and novelist were African-Americans know not to slam every point home either, which uplifts the comedy to an honest playing field, which means that when a scene like the quasi-climax when Copee finds out about the pregnancy and flips out with an ax at Elgar it's not really all that jokey, when it easily could've been played as such for an exploitation effect. Only the very ending, which feels complicated by a sort of need to tidy things up with Elgar, Janie and the baby, feels sort of forced not helped by the end song, not too ironic, called God Bless the Children .But as it stands, the Landlord is provocative fun, if that makes sense, as it works as cool satire, led by sure-fire performances Bridges has rarely been this good at being true to a mostly unsympathetic character , and it points the way for a career that the director would have where oddball slices of life wouldn't mean there wasn't larger points being made. It's one of the best bets as an obscure find a film-buff can have from 1970.
Certainly one of the Top 10 films of 1970, this ingenious comedy directed by Hal Ashby has never gotten the recognition it so deserves. Beau Bridges in this and Gaily, Gaily showed what a wonderful young actor he was, every bit as good as his brother, but never made that Star leap. Lee Grant one of the best is coy and cunning and wonderful as Bridges' mother and Diana Sands is heartbreaking, with excellent work from Lou Gossett and Pearl Bailey.Great music and a topical plot, you can't help but get involved with this rich young man's "plight". One of Ashby's better <more>
films. A high 8 out of 10. Best performance Lee Grant.
Hal Ashby's debut film may be somewhat over-directed, but it is one of his best;funny, provocative and pointed. And I prefer it to Bound for Glory,Coming Home,Harold and Maude and Shampoo. The Landlord is Ashby's most audacious film and along with The Last Detail 1973 it's his best. The change in tone is consistent with the main character's developing awareness and involvement with the tenants he had planned to displace in order to convert the building into his private home. Lee Grant is terrific as Bridge's mother and earned an Oscar nomination for supporting actress and <more>
no less memorable are Diana Sands, Pearl Bailey, and Louis Gossett Jr. Bridges is winning as the landlord who arrives to make change and winds up being changed and Trish Van Devere is funny in her one scene. The on location shooting, terrific cinematography and surprising dialog keep it real and interesting. Not as well known as it should be.