More About The Landlord
Elgar Enders (Beau Bridges), a rich but good-hearted dilettante, buys a tenement building in a run-down part of Brooklyn. He wants, with no evil intent, to evict all the African American tenants and rip out all the floors so he can hang gigantic works of art in his new home. When he moves into an empty apartment he meets the tenants, a colorful collection of 1960s types. Pearl Bailey and Lou Gossett stand out in their small roles. When Elgar starts to make repairs to the tenant's apartments, he slowly becomes involved with their lives. He becomes romantically involved with a married tenant, Fanny (Diana Sands), and a dancer, Lanie (Marki Bey), whom he meets at a local bar. This is contrasted with his interactions with his stiff upper-crust family, dominated by his mother (Lee Grant). Her visit to the tenement results in a delightfully comic scene with Bailey.
Directed by Hal Ashby, beautifully shot by Gordon Willis, and produced by Norman Jewison (for whom Ashby had edited IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT), this first feature by Ashby clearly shows his attraction to offbeat material, which would reach an apogee in HAROLD AND MAUDE, but it is also one of the few real attempts from this time period to explore, in a multifaceted manner, the issues of race and class in America. The film is based on the novel by Kristin Hunter.
Main Cast & Crew
Hal Ashby - Director
Elgar Enders is a young white man hailing from an upper-crust, snobby family. Bored and aimless, he decides to purchase a Brooklyn tenement, restore it, and create his own private palace. But once he meets the building's black tenants, Elgar is drawn to them and fascinated by their lives, which are so different from his. As a result, the spoiled Elgar begins to see life--and himself--in a new light.
The story takes place in Park Slope in Brooklyn.
"...[An] underappreciated cult movie....The film has a distinctive look, as well it should..." - 06/07/1996 USA Today, p.3D
"THE LANDLORD, Ashby's first film, is both wickedly funny and filled with gruff tenderness for the city and its people." - 04/30/2010 New York Times
"[T]he film is capable of real subtlety..." - 12/01/2012 Sight and Sound