Monkey Hustle is a blaxploitation film shot in Chicago in the 70s (a rarity, in that regard), around the same time as Cooley High. Mainly shot around 63rd Street, East of the Dan Ryan (the Woodlawn Neighborhood), and various West Side locations, the city figures prominently in the overall vibe of the film. Starring in Monkey Hustle are (among others): Yaphet Kotto as a small-time hustler/love interest of the lovely Rosalind Cash, and a very young Debbi Morgan as Cash’s daughter.
Cash runs the local teenage hangout. As the neighborhood hero/big-time hustler, we have Rudy Ray Moore (who is also Cash’s alternate love interest). The other major character is Win, Debbi Morgan’s love interest who, despite showing promise for bigger things, dips deeper and deeper into the “Monkey Hustle” with Kotto.
The overlying plot is fairly pointed: The city government is pushing ahead on plans to construct an expressway on land currently occupied by the neighborhood (which was actually happening in real-life Chicago… remember the plans for that “Crosstown Expressway“?). Ultimately the set-up becomes ‘the hustle must go on to save the community (by any means necessary)’. Overall, a message movie with too many competing angles. But fun for the shots of Chicago (and the girl fight).