Cheat You Fair: The Story of Maxwell Street

Phil Ranstrom's paean to the old Maxwell Street Market plays like three separate documentaries, each with its own feel and thesis. The first part, which details the market's beginnings after the Great Chicago Fire and its growth during the waves of European and African-American migration, resembles a pedestrian History Channel program. The second flows much better, showing how the market's cultural melting pot fostered the birth of electric blues, and the third investigates the collusion between City Hall and big business that allowed the University of Illinois at Chicago to buy the area for campus expansion, then sell a large chunk to private developers. Ranstrom sees gentrification as inimical to urban vitality—this should have been his primary focus. 100 min.

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