I will be hosting a film screening of 1976’s Monkey Hustle at the Black Cinema House on Sunday, June 9th at 6pm. We will watch the film (which was shot mere blocks from where we’ll be watching it), and then discuss it.
Monkey Hustle – hosted by Ayana Contreras
Black Cinema House
6901 S. Dorchester Ave., Chicago
Sunday, June 9th at 6pm
Seating is limited, so please RSVP by emailing email@example.com to reserve your seats.
For more on the film, see my review below.
Monkey Hustle is a black film shot in Chicago in the 1970s (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).