An upwardly mobile businessman buys a run-down apartment block in an ethnic part of New York, intending to demolish it and redevelop the site. But news of the tenants’ predicaments causes him to have a change of heart.
Former editor Hal Ashby – an Oscar winner for In the Heat of the Night (1967) – made a terrific debut as director with this comedy-drama, featuring a superb Beau Bridges as Elgar Enders, the wealthy scion who learns about humanity and the African-American experience in honky New York from his tenants.
Pearl Bailey and the ill-fated Diana Sands shine, and there’s good work too from Robert Klein and Lee Grant.
The result is a strange amalgam of tenderness, satire, and innovative storytelling held together by Ashby’s mastery of editing and a series of powerful performances.
Fans of Ashby’s subsequent cult classic Harold and Maude (1971) should check this out, as there is a lot to enjoy. He went on to direct such notable pictures as The Last Detail (1973), Shampoo (1975) and Being There (1979).
A great deal of the movie was filmed on location in the then-predominantly black and poor neighbourhood of Park Slope, Brooklyn. The film’s main exteriors were shot at 51 Prospect Place, near Sixth Avenue.
Louis Gossett Jr
Mrs Joyce Enders