Debate Magazine

Agglomeration Benefits in the Movies

Posted on the 25 June 2014 by Markwadsworth @Mark_Wadsworth

Rich Tee mentioned No Batteries Included in the comments at The Stigler's post about films where the general theme is Noble Small Landowners battling with Evil Developers.
The plot twists are right at the beginning and at the end:
Frank and Faye Riley (Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy), an elderly couple who run an apartment building and café in the run-down East Village neighborhood, come under threat by a nearby property development. The development manager sends a hoodlum named Carlos and his gang of thugs to bribe the couple and their tenants to move out…
OK, so Frank and Faye are just small rent collectors competing with a larger rent collector; this is not good-v-evil, it is slightly evil-v-very evil, and being fair to the Evil Developer, at least he starts off by offering them a ransom payment...
Fast forward through the shenanigans where the counter parties commit various criminal offences to frighten each other off…
The story then rolls on to an undisclosed period some years later in the future, revealing that skyscraper developments have eventually been built, but this time flanking either side of the tiny apartment building, with Frank's café now doing a roaring trade as a result of the new employment brought into the area.
So in the end, the small rent collector ends up getting his ransom payment ten times over by reaping the agglomeration benefits; which is exactly what the hero in Once Upon Time In The West was gambling on but gets killed for.

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