The true story of Bernard Garrett and Joe Morris, two black men who bought real estate in the 1960's using a white man as the face of their partnership.
The Banker (2020)
Directed by George Nolfi
Written by Niceole R. Levy, George Nolfi,
David Lewis Smith, Stan Younger
Starring Anthony Mackie, Samuel L. Jackson, Nicholas Hoult,
Nia Long, Scott Daniel Johnson, Jessie T. Usher, Colm Meaney
The Banker is a strong biographical drama about a very complex bit of modern American history. In the 1960's, black Americans were unable to get bank loans to buy homes or lease apartments. While unfortunate and saddening, it isn't that surprising. Most of our nation's history has been dedicated to disenfranchising anyone who isn't a rich white man. However, in 1963, two black men decided to get into the real estate business themselves. Bernard Garrett (Mackie) and Joe Morris (Jackson) were well-off, educated black men who wanted to corner the real estate market in Los Angeles, but at a time when black men couldn't advance, they used a white proxy to buy for them. This is a true story, and it's one of the best film depictions of the American dream.
Everyone told Garrett he was crazy for trying to purchase the Bankers Building, the tallest building in L.A. at the time. He and Morris used Matt Steiner (Hoult) to buy that building, and the rest is history. Mackie and Jackson have great chemistry and do a great job depicting two historical figures instrumental in paving the road for the Fair Housing Act of 1968. Without them, who knows when black Americans would've been able to become homeowners? The Banker may not go as far as it could with its subject matter, but it tells a very interesting story that few people have heard about.
The ending of The Banker is infuriating, as films like this often become. The deck has always been stacked against certain people, in every possible avenue from government to factories to real estate. Advancement has always been ten times as hard for black Americans then for white Americans. Movies like this remind us that progress is slow and often doesn't work right away. We still see blatant racism and vicious attacks today, but we need movies like The Banker to show us how far we really have come as a society.