The Landlord (1970)

Genres - Comedy Drama, Romance  |   Sub-Genres - Comedy of Manners, Message Movie  |   Release Date - May 20, 1970 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 113 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Oscar-winning editor Hal Ashby cut his teeth as a director with this counter-culture tale of a spoiled slumlord and the tenants who transform him. Beau Bridges turns in one of his most buoyant, affable performances as the conceited Elgar, whose resolve to remodel his building into luxury living is broken first by a romance, then by a deeper understanding of the people he houses. The project was originally given to Ashby by director Norman Jewison, with whom he had worked on In the Heat of the Night; the two disagreed on The Landlord's tone and eventually parted ways. Instead of merely capitalizing on the material's late 1960s, anti-authoritarian tone, Ashby humanizes all those involved and isn't afraid to explore the messier implications of his characters' behavior. Many hallmarks of later, more popular Ashby films are in evidence here: the penchant for dark satire; the left-wing socio-political consciousness; and the intuitive, "European" style of cutting. The bright, hazy cinematography was one of the earlier efforts by Gordon Willis, and Lee Grant received an Oscar nomination for her work as Elgar's uptight benefactor mom.