. The social satire is set in Brooklyn. Bridges, early in his film career with his young surfer dude-like handsomeness, plays the Long Island trust-fund baby who has a depressed Brooklyn building in his sights for gentrification. That means the working class black people living in it will be evicted so he can fix it up and raise the rent. Ashby followed this socio-economic comedy with Harold and Maude, The Last Detail starring Jack Nicholson, Shampoo with Warren Beatty, Bound for Glory, Coming Home and he got a brilliant performance out of Peter Sellers in the political satire, Being There. I highly recommend renting The Landlord. You must experience the performance by the late Diana Sands. She's absolutely luminous as Francine, the married hairdresser who is trying to make ends meet in the landlord's building.
Sands was an outstanding and greatly respected stage actress. She originated the role of Beneatha Younger in Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun and repeated her role in the 1961 film version along with Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee and, as the family matriarch, Claudia McNeil.
Onstage, Sands did Shakespeare. She did Shaw. She did lots of TV ranging from guest appearances on prime time dramatic shows to playing a character on the groundbreaking sitcom, Julia, starring Diahann Carroll. For her television work, she earned an Emmy nomination.
For her theatrical performances, actress Diana Sands was a 2-time Tony Award nominee.
In Hal Ashby's The Landlord, Diana Sands portrays the kind of wonderfully complicated woman Barbara Stanwyck excelled at playing. Francine is an ambitious woman. She's often the smartest one in the room, pulling a fast one over on the guy or the guys. But she also works hard to not get tripped up on her own game and reveal the vulnerability she's determined to hide. She's playing two emotional registers at the same time while telling herself that her ultimate goal is a big step up to financial relief. Think of Stanwyck in The Lady Eve, Ball of Fire, Meet John Doe and Double Indemnity. Watching Francine perform a reverse emotional gentrification on the new landlord is a beautiful thing. She bounces wealthy Elgar down to her level as she manipulates the underlying racial tensions. A revival movie theater should put this on a double bill with Capra's It's A Wonderful Life. Elgar Enders is quite the opposite of George Bailey who, like his father, is committed to help working class folks of all colors own their own home.