Sweet, cheap "Street Music," directed by independent filmmaker Jenny Bowen, sets young love against a shambles -- the Victory Hotel in San Francisco's Tenderloin. Real hookers volunteered to stand around the location to give it an authentic look, which it definitely has.
The Victory's tenants, mostly old and poor, are about to be evicted and their home leveled for a parking lot. Bowen's screenplay is based on a real incident at the International Hotel, focus of a confrontation between poor residents and owners, who won a court case and razed the building.
But "Street Music" is no downer, even though the Victory isn't won. The old people, hollow-eyed and purposeless, get a new lease on life when they team up to fight for their home. They're egged on by a young intellectual desk clerk (D'Alan Moss), whose Karl Marx T-shirt sums up his politics.
The lovers, tenants at the Victory, are as doomed as the hotel. Sadie Delaware (Elizabeth Daily) and Eddie Beagle (Larry Breeding) can't get along unless they're horizontal. She's a street singer -- part kewpie doll, part sexpot. She does five song-and-dance routines recorded live on location. Daily's a tepid tapper, but she has a nice, jazzy sound.
Beagle is believable as a tour-bus driver whose tall tales engage out-of-towners who like to be taken for a ride. He's an appealing bad guy who doesn't really mean it -- he just overdosed on mellow. He's a lying but loving son in the Victory's extended family. There's also Motion Slim, the wino who lives in a nearby doorway, and Sam (Ned Glass) and Jasper (W.F. Walker), salt-and- pepper pals who don't want to split up when they have to move.
And Mildred (Marjorie Eaton) is an eccentric cat woman straight out of a Tennessee Williams play. To stave off the sheriff's department, she goes naked except for the Persian cat on her lap.
Eaton -- way, way over 65 -- is a dirty old man's dream come true. But "Street Music," Bowen's first film, is truly not just for mature audiences. STREET MUSIC -- At the MacArthur.