The Landlord (1970)

R | 114 mins | Comedy-drama | 20 May 1970

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HISTORY

In summer 1966, producer Norman Jewison acquired screen rights to Kristin Hunter’s 1966 novel, The Landlord, through his Norman Jewison Productions, as reported in the 25 Jul 1966 DV. Although Jewison was considering directing the project, no specific plans had been made. The following year, a 9 May 1967 DV brief stated that Jewison’s Simkoe Productions had extended its contract with Mirisch Productions, Inc., and The Landlord was set to be one of four pictures under the revised deal. Erich Segal was hired to adapt the script.
       On 1 Nov 1968, LAT announced that Hal Ashby would make his directorial debut with The Landlord. Ashby had previously worked as Jewison’s editor on The Cincinnati Kid (1965, see entry), The Russians Are Coming The Russians Are Coming (1966, see entry), The Thomas Crown Affair (1968, see entry), and In the Heat of the Night (1967, see entry), for which he won an Academy Award for Film Editing.
       The 10 Apr 1969 DV quoted Jewison as saying that The Landlord would be “the screen’s first black comedy,” and that cast was going to be eighty-percent black. According to an item in the 24 Jun 1969 DV, black crewmembers included “four black apprentices, a black second assistant, one as assistant to producer, a key grip, a costumer, a makeupman, and an electrician.”
       Beau Bridges’s casting was announced in the 5 Feb 1969 DV. Anjanette Comer was under consideration for a co-starring role, according to a 21 Feb 1969 DV news item, ... More Less

In summer 1966, producer Norman Jewison acquired screen rights to Kristin Hunter’s 1966 novel, The Landlord, through his Norman Jewison Productions, as reported in the 25 Jul 1966 DV. Although Jewison was considering directing the project, no specific plans had been made. The following year, a 9 May 1967 DV brief stated that Jewison’s Simkoe Productions had extended its contract with Mirisch Productions, Inc., and The Landlord was set to be one of four pictures under the revised deal. Erich Segal was hired to adapt the script.
       On 1 Nov 1968, LAT announced that Hal Ashby would make his directorial debut with The Landlord. Ashby had previously worked as Jewison’s editor on The Cincinnati Kid (1965, see entry), The Russians Are Coming The Russians Are Coming (1966, see entry), The Thomas Crown Affair (1968, see entry), and In the Heat of the Night (1967, see entry), for which he won an Academy Award for Film Editing.
       The 10 Apr 1969 DV quoted Jewison as saying that The Landlord would be “the screen’s first black comedy,” and that cast was going to be eighty-percent black. According to an item in the 24 Jun 1969 DV, black crewmembers included “four black apprentices, a black second assistant, one as assistant to producer, a key grip, a costumer, a makeupman, and an electrician.”
       Beau Bridges’s casting was announced in the 5 Feb 1969 DV. Anjanette Comer was under consideration for a co-starring role, according to a 21 Feb 1969 DV news item, which noted that Comer’s availability depended on the shooting schedule of her previous commitment, Rabbit, Run (1970, see entry).
       Principal photography was slated to begin on 2 Jun 1969 in New York City. Ashby had initially planned to film in Philadelphia, PA, where the book is set, as indicated in the 13 Nov 1968 Var. However, an item in the 6 Jul 1969 LAT stated that New York City was chosen over Philadelphia since less housing would be necessitated and therefore shooting there would be cheaper. As the main filming site, Ashby selected an area of Brooklyn, NY, on Prospect Place, which was described by LAT as “ghetto, but not deep ghetto.” Ashby claimed he preferred it to Harlem “because it wouldn’t be believable that the boy [“Elgar Enders”] would go into such a depressed area.” Hoping to curtail any tensions that might arise between black residents and the movie crew, filmmakers reached out to the community on Prospect Place before shooting began, explaining the premise of The Landlord and emphasizing its theme of race relations, according to a 19 Sep 1969 LAT article. Moreover, a request was made for a black police officer to be assigned to the filming locations, and rooms were rented in the neighborhood for use by the actors, in lieu of parking trailers on the street. Locals were hired as background actors when possible, and waivers were given by the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) so that non-professional children could receive full-scale day rates. Actress Pearl Bailey personally introduced herself to neighbors, and a local woman cooked “soul food” for cast members after hearing that Diana Sands preferred the cuisine. Other locations included Brooklyn Botanic Garden, a church, a “fancier section of Brooklyn,” the squash courts at the Downtown Athletic Club in Manhattan, Trude Heller’s discotheque in Greenwich Village, and a section of Beekman Place on the Upper East Side.
       Sometime during filming, Hal Ashby was married to actress Joan Marshall on the set, as announced in a 25 Aug 1969 DV brief. Norman Jewison gave away the bride, and Beau Bridges acted as best man at the ceremony, which was presided over by a Unitarian minister at F&B Ceco Studios. The ceremony was reportedly filmed.
       Principal photography was completed by mid-Sep 1969, as noted in the 19 Sep 1969 LAT.
       The picture debuted in New York City on 20 May 1970, and was met with positive critical reception. The 20 May 1970 DV review called it “very nearly one of the most amusing racial dramatic comedies in some time,” and by early Nov 1970, the film had grossed $1,477,898 in select markets, according to a box-office chart in the 4 Nov 1970 Var.
       Lee Grant received an Academy Award nomination for Actress in a Supporting Role, and a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in Any Motion Picture.
       Actress Marki Bey made her theatrical motion picture in The Landlord. The 18 Jun 1970 Los Angeles Sentinel noted that Pearl Bailey, who had performed with Bey on Broadway in Hello, Dolly! (New York City, 16 Jan 1964), orchestrated Bey’s impromptu casting by inviting her over during a meeting with Jewison and Ashby that took place at Bailey’s home. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
25 Jul 1966
p. 3.
Daily Variety
9 May 1967
p. 1.
Daily Variety
5 Feb 1969
p. 1, 6.
Daily Variety
5 Feb 1969
p. 16.
Daily Variety
21 Feb 1969
p. 2.
Daily Variety
10 Mar 1969
p. 2.
Daily Variety
10 Apr 1969
p. 1, 11.
Daily Variety
2 Jun 1969
p. 17.
Daily Variety
24 Jun 1969
p. 4.
Daily Variety
25 Aug 1969
p. 2.
Daily Variety
20 May 1970
p. 3, 6.
Los Angeles Sentinel
3 Apr 1969
Section F, p. 4.
Los Angeles Sentinel
18 Jun 1970
Section B, p. 3-A.
Los Angeles Times
1 Nov 1968
Section F, p. 22.
Los Angeles Times
18 Jun 1969
Section E, p. 16.
Los Angeles Times
6 Jul 1969
Section L, p. 1, 23.
Los Angeles Times
19 Sep 1969
Section G, p. 17.
Los Angeles Times
19 Sep 1969
Section G, p. 19.
Los Angeles Times
3 Jun 1970
Section E, p. 1, 18.
New York Times
21 May 1970
p. 44.
New York Times
2 Aug 1970
p. 69.
Variety
3 Aug 1966
p. 20.
Variety
13 Nov 1968
p. 21.
Variety
4 Nov 1970
p. 9.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Dir
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITER
Scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Asst cam
Asst cam
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITORS
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Scenic artist
Scenic artist
COSTUMES
Ward
MUSIC
Mus
Mus supv
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairstyles
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod supv
Loc mgr
Scr supv
Ed cons
Stills
Key grip
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Landlord by Kristin Hunter (New York, 1966).
SONGS
"Brand New Day," music and lyrics by Al Kooper, sung by The Staple Singers and Al Kooper
"Doing Me Dirty" and "Let Me Love You," music and lyrics by Al Kooper, sung by Lorrane Ellison
"A Man," music and lyrics by Al Kooper, sung by Al Kooper
+
SONGS
"Brand New Day," music and lyrics by Al Kooper, sung by The Staple Singers and Al Kooper
"Doing Me Dirty" and "Let Me Love You," music and lyrics by Al Kooper, sung by Lorrane Ellison
"A Man," music and lyrics by Al Kooper, sung by Al Kooper
"God Bless the Children," music and lyrics by Jimmy Holliday, sung by The Staple Singers.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
20 May 1970
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 20 May 1970
Production Date:
began 2 June 1969
Copyright Claimant:
Mirisch Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
20 May 1970
Copyright Number:
LP38466
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
De Luxe
Duration(in mins):
114
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

Elgar Enders, the son of a wealthy industrialist, buys a tenement in Brooklyn which he plans to convert into a psychedelic home for himself after evicting the present Negro tenants. Elgar's ideas are changed, however, when he becomes acquainted with the tenants, who include Marge, a fortune-teller; Professor Duboise, a black segregationist; the Copee family; and an invalid couple who live in the basement. After deciding to allow the tenants to remain, Elgar moves into the building and begins to make some improvements. Mr. and Mrs. Enders are disturbed by their son's behavior, especially when he insults Heywood, the Negro butler, for his subservience, and divulges that he is in love with Lanie, a mulatto art student. Upon returning to his tenement, he throws a party and makes love to Fanny Copee, a black woman whose husband is in jail. Months later, Fanny reports that she is pregnant, and Elgar abandons Lanie to take care of Fanny. When her husband returns from jail, he attacks Elgar with an ax but cannot bring himself to kill him; instead, he suffers a breakdown and is taken to the hospital. Fanny gives birth to the baby and tells Elgar that she plans to put the baby up for adoption so that it can be brought up as a white. Elgar takes the baby himself, packs up his belongings, and drives off to reconcile with Lanie, leaving the house to the Copee ... +


Elgar Enders, the son of a wealthy industrialist, buys a tenement in Brooklyn which he plans to convert into a psychedelic home for himself after evicting the present Negro tenants. Elgar's ideas are changed, however, when he becomes acquainted with the tenants, who include Marge, a fortune-teller; Professor Duboise, a black segregationist; the Copee family; and an invalid couple who live in the basement. After deciding to allow the tenants to remain, Elgar moves into the building and begins to make some improvements. Mr. and Mrs. Enders are disturbed by their son's behavior, especially when he insults Heywood, the Negro butler, for his subservience, and divulges that he is in love with Lanie, a mulatto art student. Upon returning to his tenement, he throws a party and makes love to Fanny Copee, a black woman whose husband is in jail. Months later, Fanny reports that she is pregnant, and Elgar abandons Lanie to take care of Fanny. When her husband returns from jail, he attacks Elgar with an ax but cannot bring himself to kill him; instead, he suffers a breakdown and is taken to the hospital. Fanny gives birth to the baby and tells Elgar that she plans to put the baby up for adoption so that it can be brought up as a white. Elgar takes the baby himself, packs up his belongings, and drives off to reconcile with Lanie, leaving the house to the Copee family. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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