The Black Cinema Is… “The Monkey Hustle”


Older Chicago residents may remember the long-threatened “Crosstown Expressway” that the first Mayor Daley wanted to build. It was to connect the southernmost point of the Dan Ryan with the Kennedy in an L-shaped loop that would run west along 75th and then north along Cicero. It would have meant the destruction of 30,000 residences, and the predictable outcry (and rampant inflation) actually convinced Richard J. to shelve the idea.
Well, in 1976 it was still a possibility, and it inspired The Monkey Hustle, a classic blaxploitation film starring Yaphet Kotto and Rudy Ray Moore as a couple of hustlers who organize their neighborhood to stop a proposed expressway that would destroy a gym that future Olympians need to practice and would also force all of Kotto’s crook friends to relocate. Come for the solid action-comedy, but stay for a view of the East 63rd Street of old, before the Jackson Park line and all the people and buildings were removed to make way for empty lots and townhouses.

Ayana Contreras, host and producer of “Reclaimed Soul” on, will introduce the film and lead a discussion afterwards.

Black Cinema House
6901 S. Dorchester Ave.