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The Old Settler
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40's Harlem

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Elizabeth & Quilly
Elizabeth, Husband & Quilly
Husband & Lu Bessie

"The Old Settler is about relationships," says Director Debbie Allen. "It's about people who have loved and lost love and who are desperately trying to hold on to or find love."
"What compelled me to bring The Old Settler to the screen," says Executive Producer Phylicia Rashad, "was that it's a beautiful story about loneliness and about love and about longing."
The Old Settler is the story of two middle-aged sisters, Elizabeth and Quilly, who share an apartment in Harlem in 1943. The sisters quarrel amiably, but they share a wounded history that becomes revealed as the tale unfolds.
An earnest but unworldly young man named Husband travels up from the South to board with the sisters while he searches for his beloved Lou Bessie, who left their small town a few years back to find a new life.
Husband would like to bring Lou Bessie back home, but she's enamored with the excitement of the city, and her plans are more complicated. In time, Elizabeth and Husband begin a courtship that may or may not overcome their considerable age difference, while Quilly reacts disapprovingly.
John Henry Redwood's play, from which PBS Hollywood Presents' first film is adapted, is set in a period of New York history that was energized by a cultural wave called the Harlem Renaissance. So the story takes us to the famed Savoy Ballroom, where hot music played, cool swing dancers ruled the floor, and hearts swooned.

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