Cinema: Black-and-Tan Fantasy

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God does not often give at the office. His official address is the old Red Skelton estate in Bel Air, which features a rock pool stocked with exotic fish, an aviary full of rare birds, peacocks and llamas stalking the lawn. But the twice-divorced Gordy is frequently on the move, traveling under an assumed name. Last week, under the nom d'entrepreneur D. Thompson, he barely paused in mid-career to count himself "pleased" with having made a woman's picture at a time when male stars dominate the screen. He does admit to being "thrilled" by Mahogany's fast getaway at the box office. As ever, Berry Gordy's emotional highs seem to stem less from the heart than from the bottom line of his all-black ledger.

Second Time Around



Sidney Poitier and Bill Cosby, amiable enough fellows in last year's Up town Saturday Night, were not so memorable that anyone would want to meet them again, especially as soon as this. But the same Poitier-Cosby characters are on view in Let's Do It Again, an other comedy full of tired jokes and fairly high spirits.

This time Poitier plays an Atlanta milkman named Clyde. Cosby is his best pal, a factory worker called Billy. With their wives, they take a weekend's jaunt to New Orleans, where they hope to raise money for the Sons and Daughters of Shaka, their ailing lodge back home. Their scheme does not promise success — or an especially funny movie: they hypnotize an emaciated, canvas-backed middleweight contender named Bootney Farnsworth (Jimmie Walker) to give him inner and outer strength. Then they put their money on the unlikely pug to beat a nasty pro named 40th Street Black. The odds are long, but Poitier's hypnotic skills are considerable. Bootney flattens the champ in the first round. The boys clean up.

If this sounds like the end of the movie, bear in mind that its title is Let's Do It Again. The whole caper is recycled. Poitier and Cosby are hauled back to New Orleans by Kansas City Mack (John Amos) and his boys, who feel they got bilked and want to work the same ploy on a rival gambler named Biggie Smalls (Calvin Lockhart). Now this is not a movie with jokes to spare. By the time Poitier and Cosby have rerun their plot, the meager supply has been totally exhausted. So has the audience. J.C.

A Bintel Brief


Directed and Written by JOAN MICKLIN SILVER

It is a question of scale. Hester Street, about the lives of some Jewish immigrants in the New York of 1896, is what is commonly considered a "little movie." Specifically, this means a film made with little money, cast with unfamiliar actors and confined to a narrow scope. The customary response to little movies is the halfhearted, affectionate encouragement bestowed on a distant relative who wants to go into show business. Rather than making a virtue of its modesty, however, Hester Street trades on it. The movie demands to be liked for its good intentions.

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