Based on a True Story, ‘The Banker’ Both Educates and Entertains

Samuel L. Jackson and Anthony Mackie in “The Banker.” | Apple

For many African Americans living in the late 1950s and early 1960s, home ownership or starting a business were all but impossible due to policies that mandated segregation.

Enter Bernard Garrett and Joe Morris, two successful black businessmen who devised an audacious plan to buy real estate and banks to help those marginalized due to their skin color pursue the American Dream.

This is the fascinating true story behind George Nolfi’s “The Banker,” hitting the streaming service AppleTV Plus on March 20. Starring Anthony Mackie (“Captain America”), Samuel L. Jackson (“The Hateful Eight”), Nicholas Hoult (“Tolkien”) and Nia Long, the drama expertly brings to life a rich and entertaining little-known piece of history.

The film opens in 1930s Texas, where a young Bernard eavesdrops on the men whose shoes he’s shining to learn the ins and outs of the business world. Smart and ambitious, he meticulously records everything he learns in a notebook. However, Bernard is discouraged from pursuing his dreams by his father, who reminds him that his skin color will get in the way of success.

Fast forward several decades to 1954 Los Angeles, where an adult Bernard (Mackie) now lives with his wife, Eunice (Long), and his young son. Outfitted in a smartly-tailored suit, Bernard seeks to buy up investment properties but is repeatedly told “no” by hesitant sellers. It’s not until he meets Patrick Barker, an Irish property owner intrigued by the idea of buying properties in white neighborhoods that are adjacent to black neighborhoods, that Bernard is given a chance.

Despite his business acumen, Bernard is forced to remain behind-the-scenes, as his skin color proves to be an obstacle for white property owners. When his partnership with Barker unexpectedly ends, Bernard reluctantly joins forces with Joe (Jackson), a savvy, rough-around-the-edges businessman whose life motto — “don’t trust anyone” — has seemingly served him well.

The two men decide to hire Matt Steiner (Holt), a working-class white man to be the face of their real-estate empire. They teach him how to play golf, drink whiskey, do basic math, and use business lingo to “fit in” with wealthy white business owners. While Matt negotiates with others in the industry, Bernard and Joe watch nearby, pretending to be a janitor and chauffeur.

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Source: Christian Post